Hopes ignited for Zambo watersheds PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 July 2015 11:36

The regular session of  the Zamboanga City City Council held June 30, 2015 shed more reason to hope for the betterment of Zamboanga watersheds.

The Council members invited representatives of the Friends of Zamboanga Watersheds Movement (FZWM) and other concerned sectors in the city for a dialogue relative to the current issues and concerns as regards the Zamboanga watersheds.They unanimously voted for the reactivation of the co-management agreement.    The same resolution also led to the inclusion of FZWM into the agreement’s People’s Organizations (POs) thereby making the movement a part of the Watershed Management Council (WMC).

Growing concern for the preservation of the city’s water reservoir arose due to the long drought that the city experienced in the recent months. Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, FZWM convener, presented the movement’s advocacies and concerns for the other six identified watersheds of Zamboanga.

“There is no need to convince everyone about the importance of water and the need to protect the environment. The reality that we face now convinces us of the responsibility we have to assume in order to take care of our environment,” Fr. D’Ambra said. As a response, the Council, through the intervention of Councilor Charlie Mariano, pronounced its full support to the movement’s efforts and advocacies for the watersheds.

It must be noted that the protection from apparent destruction of these identified watersheds in places namely, Ayala, Manicahan, Vitali, Curuan, Bolong and Culianan is the top priority. For this to happen there is the need to reactivate the co-management agreement signed between the city government and the DENR Region IX in the year 2006. This reactivation will lead to the implementation of the proposed management development plan which piloted the first two priority watersheds, Ayala and Manicahan. All the other mentioned watersheds supposed to follow in the projected development.

Present also during the dialogue was the city’s Disrict 2 Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño.  She presented the efforts she made on her part to protect all of Zamboanga watersheds. One of these is the recently passed bill that will make Ayala, Manicahan, Curuan, Bolong and Culianan watersheds as protected areas. Vitali watershed was not included in the list yet because the required characterization survey was not yet conducted. To this, the City Council resolved to allocate the necessary budget for the conduct of the said survey.

Concerned with the protection and preservation of the environment, Silsilah Dialogue Movement convened FZWM few years ago after a successful advocacy for the protection of Ayala watershed against the coming of a mining company. Silsilah maintains a holistic approach in dialogue that includes humanity’s relationship with creation. Its program, Dialogue with Creation, advocates more organic ways in farming and is mobilizing educational drives for the protection of the local natural resources, including water.

The movement looks at the present environmental concerns in the context of the challenges that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has posed in Laudato Si’ his latest encyclical letter addressed to all humanity, men and women of goodwill. The good pope stresses that “the urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development…Humanity still has the ability to work together to build our common home.” Convinced that young people of today’s generation “demand change,” the Holy Father understands that “they wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”

Hopes for the betterment of Zamboanga Watersheds were ignited. Yet the challenge to sustain the advocacy requires the local government, the different stakeholders, and the people from grassroots to work together for the common good in all truth and honesty.  — Seminarian Benson Rance