President Benigno Aquino drew flak from former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for not doing his best to resolve the perennial flood problem in Cotabato City and in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
Apparently, Arroyo was lamenting at Aquino’s disregard and indifference of continuing the former administration’s “Mindanao River for Peace” project, which, among other things, would try to unclog the Rio Grande de Mindanao from the wild growth of water hyacinths that extremely restricts the flow of water.
The “Mindanao River for Peace” project, which is better known as the Mindanao River Basin Masterplan focuses on water resources development and watershed management based on a detailed hydrology and basin simulation study.
It also include interventions such as reclamation of river banks, dredging for navigability, eco-tourism development and the putting up of infrastructure-support projects such as farm-to-market roads, food terminal markets, irrigation, hydropower, and flood control structures, among others.
The implementation of this project should have been carried out by Region 12 offices of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“It exists [and] it just needs to be continued,” Arroyo emphatically pointed out, adding, that President Aquino “should not grope [in the dark] because there is a master plan for the project.”
A lot maybe said against Arroyo, but, if indeed, she authorized P50 million to be released for the rehabilitation and development of the Mindanao River Basin, as she claimed she did before her nine-year administration ended, where is this money now? Where did it go? To what purpose was it used for?
To prove that Arroyo’s claims are not baseless, in August 2009, a cabinet official, Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, then Chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDco), was quoted as saying that, “The development of the Mindanao River Basin should be comprehensive, integrative and sustainable thus we have sent an endorsement to the President to include the Comprehensive Mindanao River Basin Development in her economic resiliency plan.”
MEDco has been mandated to coordinate and integrate the government’s peace and development efforts in Mindanao region.
If the “Mindanao River for Peace” project will ultimately open economic opportunities in the region, generate income and increase revenues for local government units, shouldn’t PNoy have some explaining to do as to why he has given this laudable project a cold treatment?