Villafuerte to Marcos: Revive Bicol River Basin office
By Billy Begas
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte on Monday appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to revive the defunct Bicol River Basin Development Project Office (BRBDPO) to protect the 317,000-hectare watershed in the Bicol region.
Villafuerte underscored the urgency to “climate-proof” the Bicol River Basin (BRB) watershed in order to mitigate the impact of future natural disasters.
The BRB covers 963 barangays in 50 municipalities and cities in Camarines Sur, Albay and Camarines Norte.
Villafuerte also noted that after inspecting Paeng-battered areas, Marcos cited the importance of addressing climate change and flood control to minimize casualties and damages.
He said the BRBDP was established by then-President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1973 in a bid to push BRB towards its full growth potential and bring economic development to the region.
In 1989, then-President Cory Aquino issued Executive Order 374 abolishing the BRBDPO along with four other integrated area development offices for Bohol, Mindoro, Samar, and Cagayan, a step towards decentralization of her administration.
The mandates of these defunct offices were transferred to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) and local government units (LGUs).
Villafuerte first raised his proposal to revive the BRBDPO in the previous administration following the devastation brought about by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses.
Villafuerte also called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to deploy its dredging facilities in Bicol to scoop out mud and rubbish in the BRB to address flooding in the region.
“About 70% of the BRB is in CamSur, which is flood-prone Bicol’s lowest-lying province, making it a catch basin for floodwaters from the other provinces whenever tropical storms pummel our region,” Villafuerte said.