Bulacan stops cutting of 2,000 trees in Angat watershed

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BULACAN: Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado has ordered officials of Angat Hydropower Corporation (AHC) to stop cutting the old trees at the watershed area of the aging hydroelectric power Angat Dam.

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Alvarado on Friday was informed that some 924 trees, some of it decades-old have been cut down to give way to roads and heavy equipment vehicles for the ongoing repair of Angat Dam.

While appreciating the repair of the nearly 50-year-old Angat dam in Norzagaray, Alvarado strongly urged AHC engineers and contractors, led by Russel Rigor and Bro Martin Francisco from the Sagip Sierra Madre Environment Society, to immediately stop the cutting of trees.

He said it is not only unlawful to cut trees at the watershed, a protected area, but it also poses danger to the people and the environment.

Rigor earlier told local mediamen that the National Power Corp. (Napocor), the agency that has jurisdiction over watershed areas, gave permission to cut 2,000 trees which will be replaced by 1 million saplings.

But Alvarado said it will take long years to replace the destroyed forest cover at the Angat dam watershed.
“Actually, the decades-old trees are irreplaceable. In the first place not even a single tree should have been cut. Trees are also natural barriers against flashfloods,” Alvarado said.

He pointed out that Angat dam should be strengthened because the aging water wall does not only supply 96 percent of the potable water needs of Metro Manila but also irrigates farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga and generate electricity as well.

Meanwhile, Francisco, of the environment watchdog, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued the permit to cut the trees but it was the Napocor that authorized the zoning of the area that will be quarried to hasten rehabilitation and strengthening works at the dam.

He added that the cutting of trees and quarrying operations at the watershed proceeded even if there was no Free and Prior Informed Consent from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, an important requirement because the aging dam and its watershed area are located within the ancestral domain of the Dumagat tribe.

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