DENR-Calabarzon chief insists high risk geohazard areas should not be used for human habitation, announces targets to rehabilitate 10,823 hectares of forestland for 2012

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Alarmed and challenged by the recent tragic events in the South, DENR Region IV-A CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Reynulfo A. Juan said it’s not time to rest as the country will face a new year with presumably similar calamities. Alarmed that such weather occurrence, along with man-made causes, triggered the loss of lives and property in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan a few days before Christmas last year, he said this could happen again if the people will not heed government advice. He asserted, “We will continue to aspire and work for a better performance this year to address these issues.”

Interviewed live during a local broadcast aired from Calamba City, RED Juan talked about the DENR’s programs and activities foremost of which were the urgency of using geohazard maps as a useful guide against and prepare for future calamities. He also discussed President Aquino’s flagship National Greening Program (NGP).

Juan stressed the vital role of geohazard maps as warning to disaster-prone areas and as a guide to prevent catastrophes. A seasoned Geologist with vital stints as Regional Technical Director (RTD) for Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in DENR Regions 9-Zamboanga, 5-Bicol, 6-Westeastern Visayas, and the undivided Region 4-Southern Tagalog Region, Juan strongly agreed with the DENR Secretary Paje’s statement that geohazard maps are “more than a planning tool, but are a lifesaver.”

Juan said the DENR-IV-A has produced the geohazard maps and are made available by the regional office’s Decision Support Systems Office (DSSO) in Calamba City and at the office of the Regional Director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region 4A in Manila.

Juan insists, “So as not to endanger anyone, areas identified as geohazards should not be used for human habitation. In the case of the delta at the mouth of the Cagayan de Oro River, people should not be allowed to go back and rebuild houses there. They will just face a repeat of the disaster.”

He also relayed the same warning to residents of his new area of assignment in CALABARZON. He cited a map prepared by the DSSO on the ‘Areas in Region 4A CALABARZON with High Landslide Susceptibility.” The critical areas include Tagaytay City and the municipalities of Maragondon, Ternate,Silang,Alfonso, and Corregidor in the province of Cavite.

In Laguna, the susceptible areas for Landslide are Calamba City, Los Baños, Alaminos, Rizal, Nagcarlan, Majayjay, Famy, Mabitac, Sta. Maria, Siniloan, Kalayaan, Cavinti and Paete.

Laurel, Mataas na Kahoy, Cuenca, Lipa City, Tuy, Calaca, Mabini, San Juan, and Rosario were considered susceptible for Landslide in Batangas.  For the Province of Rizal, susceptible areas for Landslide included Antipolo City, Taytay, Rodriguez, San Mateo, Angono, Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras, Majayjay, Tanay, Pililia and Jalajala.

In Quezon, the susceptible areas for landslide are Gen. Nakar, Infanta, Real, Mauban, Panukalan, Burdeos, Pagbilao, Atimonan, Lopez, Buenavista, Mulanay, San Andres, San Fransisco, Tagkauayan, Sampaloc, Dolores, Tayabas, Lucban and Gen. Luna.

Juan also enumerated the flood-prone areas in the region. Based on the flood susceptibility map for CALABARZON prepared by the DSSO with the MGB-IV-A and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) IV-A, he cited areas as high, moderate and low susceptibility.  In the province of Cavite, he defined the municipalities of Kawit, Noveleta and Cavite City as areas of as flood prone with high susceptibility.

He lumped under the same category the municipalities of Mabitac, Santa Maria, Famy, Siniloan, Pangil, Pakil, Paete, Kalayaan, Lumban, Cavinti, and Santa Cruz in the province of Laguna.

In Batangas province, he considered as flood prone with high susceptibility  the towns of Nasugbu, Lian, Calatagan, Tuy, Balayan, Calaca, Lemery, Taal, San Luis, Bauan, San Pascual, Batangas, Lobo, Laurel, Talisay and Tanauan.

For Rizal Province, the highly susceptible flood prone areas include San Mateo, Cainta, Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras, Tanay, and Antipolo, according to the RED. An in Quezon province are Infanta, Real, Mauban, Pagbilao, Padre Burgos, Pitogo, Macalelon, Catanauan, Mulanay, Buenavista, Lopez, Guinayangan, Tagkawayan, Calauag, Polilio, Burdeos and Lucena City.

During the same interview, RED Juan announced, “As far as the National Greening Program is concerned, as of December 22, 2011, we have accomplished 99.13% of the target 4,735 hectares set for Region IV-A in 2011. However, we should not rest on our laurels. This coming year 2012, the Central Office has earmarked 10,823 hectares as our new target for NGP in CALABARZON.”

“One of the top priorities of the President Benigno S. Aquino III and DENR Secretary Paje is the implementation of the National Greening Program. The NGP aims to plant and nurture some 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of lands of the public domain for a period of six years from 2011 to 2016,” Juan explained.

The target for 2012 is more than twice the number of hectares to be covered by the DENR-CALABARZON compared to the 2011 target, yet the RED was firm on his commitment to accomplish the seemingly daunting challenges ahead.

“His marching orders were clear. He stressed CALABARZON is a premier region, make sure to do a good job there!” recalled RED Juan of DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje’s instructions when the latter assigned him to his new post. In October 21, 2011 Secretary Paje signed Special Order 2011-780 assigning Juan as DENR Calabarzon’s OIC-Regional Executive Director. Juan assumed his post in October 26, 2011.

“It is rehabilitating the forests—planting and nurturing the trees that buffer the rain, absorb the excess water and prevent run-offs and flood—which is the main concern addressed by the NGP, aside from generating jobs. A green forestland also cools the Earth. Our contribution in CALABARZON this year 2012 is to rehabilitate another 10,823 hectares. ” Juan said.

When asked what legacy he would like to introduce during his stint and leave as RED of DENR Region IV-A CALABARZON, Juan said, “ang matapat, matuwid at mabilis na paglilingkod sa bayan.” He promised an honest, upright and fast and efficient service to all stakeholders and our countrymen.’