Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines
TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) has asked the government’s permission to adopt two of the town’s vital bodies of water.
In his letter addressed to the Zamboanga Peninsula OIC and regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), TVIRD Vice President for Government Relations and Social Commitments Edsel Abrasaldo expressed the company’s intent to adopt Dipili and Depore Rivers to help the government in its campaign to protect the environment and improve the physical condition of the country’s rivers and waterways.
Abrasaldo told EMB the company wants to adopt a one-kilometer stretch of Dipili and Depore Rivers that traverse Bayog – the host town of the company’s gold and silver mining operations. Both are tributaries on Sibugay River, which at approximately 58 kilometers, is the longest river in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Once the company receives the green light from EMB, TVIRD Environment Superintendent Jonathan Bangloy said his department will immediately implement projects that will help stabilize the riverbanks of both rivers and to regularly clean its waters.
This is not the first time the company has adopted a critical body of water in order to help preserve it.
TVIRD’s Agata Nickel Project previously adopted a stretch of Kalinawan River – which is the cleanest inland body of water in the Caraga Region, and possibly the entire Province of Agusan del Norte.
Healthy river system
The company, according to Bangloy, will plant bamboo along the riverbanks once it gets approval.
“Bamboo prevents the massive soil erosion of riverbanks. It is the bulwark that prevents erosion and one of the mitigating measures that we’ll make to secure the river system because if soil erosion is not prevented, it will lead to the deterioration of the quality of water and will soon damage our aquatic habitat. Fresh water fishes, crabs and even frogs will soon die,” he explained.
The plan, he said, will be implemented within the last quarter of the year.
“For this project, we’ve coordinated our Community Relations Office (CRO) to prepare affected barangays. If plans push through, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) will be signed between the company and landowners, and barangay officials will be prepared,” he added.
Water quality monitoring
The company also regularly monitors the water quality of the two rivers and built siltation ponds to prevent the flow of debris from the mining site. It also established 33 sampling stations for daily, weekly and quarterly water quality monitoring.
Parallel to this, the community also performs monitoring activities through the Multi-partite Monitoring Team (MMT) – a group created by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) mandated by the Mining Act of 1995.
“These water sampling stations include parts of the Sibugay River in the towns of Siay and Imelda in the neighboring province of Zamboanga Sibugay,” added Bangloy.
Sibugay River is the catch basin of Zamboanga del Sur. The river is the source of irrigation for Bayog’s rice production, including those of other towns in the province. It also irrigates the rice-producing municipalities of Sibugay itself: Imelda, Siay, Buug and Diplahan. Fishponds in Sibugay Province also depend on the river. Other towns, like Kabasalan and Imelda depend largely on the river for its rice lands, fishponds and mangrove habitat.
TVIRD Community Relations Officer Lope Dizon said communities along Dipili and Depore Rivers are already eager to start the project.
“They are excited with the project, not only because some community members will earn money during the planting of bamboo propagules, but the people are also concerned with the quality of waters is these rivers. In fact, the Subanen tribe is represented in the MMT through Timuays (chieftains) Lucenio Manda and Casiano Edal, while the local government unit (LGU) of Bayog town is sending its Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) during meetings and monitoring activities conducted by the MMT,” Dizon said.
Dizon believes that in its almost two decades in Bayog town, the company has found allies for the environment – the people of Bayog, including the Subanen tribe and the town’s LGU.
“During MMT meetings, one can see the active participation of the community and LGU in helping the company fulfill its obligations to the town, environment and government. I think with people and government participation, TVIRD will be more effective in securing the environment,” Dizon said. (PR)