A neophyte legislator on Monday pushed for stronger protection of the Sierra Madre with the creation of specialized government body tasked with protecting Luzon’s longest mountain range.
Rep. Fidel Nograles of Rizal is seeking the establishment of the Sierra Madre Development Authority to prevent the range’s wanton destruction and ensure balanced development.
Many portions of the mountain range have been logged over while some parts have been quarried and turned into subdivisions.
The body’s main task would be to conduct a comprehensive survey of the physical and natural resources and potentialities of the Sierra Madre region and to draft a comprehensive and detailed plan aimed at conserving and utilizing the resources within the Sierra Madre range.
The survey in particular would identify Sierra Madre’s social and economic conditions, hydrologic characteristics, power potentials, scenic and tourist spots and regional problems.
The SMDA would also “make recommendations to the proper agencies on the peso or dollar financing, technical support, physical assistance and the level of priority to be accorded agricultural, industrial and commercial projects, soliciting or requiring direct help from or through the government or any of its instrumentalities.”
It would also “plan, program finance/or undertake infrastructure projects such as river, flood and tidal control works, waste water and sewerage works, dams and water supply, roads, irrigation, housing and related works, when so required within the context of its development plans and programs including the readjustment, relocation or settlement of population within the region as may be necessary and beneficial by the Authority.”
“We need a government body with enough teeth to ensure Sierra Madre’s development is not done haphazardly and without regard for the indigenous peoples who have for centuries served as its custodians,” said Nograles.
Most of the country’s 68 Protected Areas, including national parks, watershed forest reserves, natural monuments, marine reserves, protected landscapes and seascapes are on the mountain range.