June 20, 2024

Aside from partners to support the efforts to protect the Cordillera watersheds, the region also needs financial resources to be used in the preservation of the environment that also nurtures industries in other regions.

This is why the Cordillera Regional Development Council sectoral committee on environmental management wants areas in the low-lying regions to also contribute to the environmental preservation efforts of the region.

 DENR-Cordillera Executive Director Ralph Pablo, who chairs the committee, said if the region achieves its autonomous status, one of the laws that should be crafted is to require the payment of an environmental user’s fee by regions that benefit from the water flowing to their areas.

He said being the caretaker of the watersheds, the Cordillera deserves to be compensated in protecting the environment that support the livelihood of people in low-lying regions.

Among other things, Pablo said the Cordillera is the headwater of the dams that provide for the irrigation needs of agricultural lands in Regions 1 and 2.

 “The service fee can be used for the maintenance and protection of our watersheds. After all, the low-lying regions benefit from our efforts in protecting the environment,” Pablo said.

The Cordillera also plays an important role in the stabilizing the country’s power needs for feeding the dams that generate power for the Luzon grid.

Funds raised from the imposition of an environmental user’s fee that could be used to hire people that would rove the forests to protect them from natural or man-made hazards. 

Water from the Cordillera flows to the Ilocos, Cagayan, Pangasinan, La Union, and as far as Tarlac through 13 rivers and is used for domestic, irrigation, and hydroelectricity production.

Based on the Cordillera water accounts study of the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2018, at least 88 percent of the water in the Cordillera is used for irrigation, followed by 11 percent for electricity generation, and percent for aquaculture, not just for the Cordillera, but also for lowland provinces in Regions 1, 2, and 3. – Jane B. Cadalig with reports from PNA