Duterte approves Bicol River dredging

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, Nov. 15, gave the green light on the proposal to dredge the Bicol River, the eight largest tributary in the country.

Duterte, in a visit to Camarines Sur on Sunday, approved the proposal in response to the appeal of Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte for the dredging of the entire Bicol River based on the World Bank (WB) study.

Villafuerte said heavy siltation of the river causes water to overflow in river banks during heavy downpour that triggers flooding in several low lying towns and cities of Camarines Sur.

He said every time heavy rains hit Camarines Norte and Albay,

these flood waters flow down to Camarines Sur through the Bicol River and its tributaries setting of widespread flooding in the province.

He said the Camarines Sur is the catch basin of floodwaters whenever rains and stormy weather befall the region.

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT. President Rodrigo R. Duterte answers questions from media after his meeting with national and local officials during his visit in Camarines Sur on Sunday, Nov. 15 to check on the extent of damage in the province of Typhoon ‘Ulysses’. Also in photo are Sen. Bong Go, Rep. LRay Villafuerte and his son, Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte.

Duterte said “we would be glad to accommodate your proposal particularly based on a WB study.” He instructed Villafuerte to submit the proposal in coordination with the appropriate agencies.

Villafuerte said his proposal would involve a 10 to 20-year implementation phase to completely solve the flooding problem in the province.

Duterte visited Camarines Sur on Nov. 15 and held a situational briefing with selected cabinet members and local officials at the Camarines Sur Capitol Complex in Pili town.

Meanwhile, an officials present during the meeting said there is an ongoing project that involves a study aimed to find out the depth of these major rivers in the country such as those i major river channels in Iloilo, Davao, Butuan, and the Bicol.

He even informed the President that a regular dredging program should be carried out to prevent siltation explaining that siltation are dangerous saying ”the harmful movement of sand from up to down streams without dredging rivers would force water in rivers to overflow this is what happened to the Marikina and Pasig rivers,” he added.

The Bicol River is the eight largest rivers in the country in terms of drainage basin size with an estimated catchment area of 3,779 square kilometers.

Studies said the river drains a large part of the southwestern Bicol peninsula of Luzon and passes through Camarines Sur province.

The river starts from Lake Bato and flows 94 kilometers downstream at San Miguel Bay, and passes through Naga City.

The basin has an influence area of 10,058 square kilometers including its drainage basin. It is extensively a coastal flood plain.

Bicol river connects to the Libmanan, Sipocot, Naga and Yabu Rivers.

In the early 1980s, the national government created the Bicol River Basin Development Project (BRBDP), aimed to develop communities along the Bicol River.

The Bicol River Basin (BRB) has a total land area of 317,103 hectares covering the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte.

About 77 percent of the basin area or 243,800 hectares are agricultural lands. Its rivers and lakes provide irrigation water to these agricultural lands.

The BRB is drained by two major rivers, the Libmanan River, which meets near Aslong village in Libmanan before they finally empty into the San Miguel Bay.

There are 43 local government units (LGUs) under the BRB.

The BRBDP during that time implemented infrastructure (roads, irrigation facilities) environment, health, and social services projects.