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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) must secure permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the clearing of the Dungon Creek banks in Iloilo City, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Treñas said the DPWH, which is implementing the P50-million Dungon Creek dredging, may have forgotten to secure a permit from the DENR to clear the creek of mangroves as part of the project.

Last week, residents of Sitio Sooc in Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao slammed International Builders Corp. (IBC), a sub-contractor of the project, for uprooting 20-30 mangroves and other trees from a portion of the creek in their village.

Members of the Bolilao Empowerment of Neighborhoods Association (BOENAS) fear that the creek banks will be eroded and endanger residents if all mangroves are uprooted.

Initial report by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Iloilo said an estimated P30,000 worth of mangroves were destroyed.

The contractor and the DENR have suspended the dredging project because of the issue. Another factor that delayed the project implementation is the relocation of squatters from the creek’s banks.

Treñas said the DPWH has sent a letter to DENR Sec. Lito Atienza to resolve problem.

The mayor said the project will resume when the snags are resolved to prevent flooding in Iloilo City.

Cenro head Bernabe Garnace said IBC should have used a barge to excavate or dredge the river bank of silt to prevent overrunning the mangroves and other endemic plants in the creek.

“The backhoe should have been placed in one barge while the other barge will haul the excavated materials. Placing a backhoe in the easement area will destroy the mangrove areas,” Garnace said.

The main contractor of the project is Cebu-based WT Construction which won the bidding conducted by the DPWH regional office.

Garnace said if proper procedures were observed, minimal destruction was done on the mangrove areas.

He added that the environmental destruction caused by the incident is bigger compared to the commercial value of the damaged mangroves.

“The environmental assessment is still ongoing in the affected mangrove site. What happened is uncalled for,” Garnace said.

Garnace said the DENR will call a technical conference to determine IBC’s liabilities on the destroyed mangroves. (With reports from PNA)

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