A young lawmaker from Rizal is proposing the creation of a government body tasked with protecting the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles is pushing for the establishment of the Sierra Madre Development Authority to prevent its wanton destruction and ensure balanced development.

“We must always be mindful of the need to use our resources sustainably.”

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 based on such, and designed to conserve and utilize optimally the resources within the Sierra Madre region.

The survey, in particular, would identify Sierra Madre’s social and economic conditions, hydrologic characteristics, power potentials, scenic and tourist spots, 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.

“The mountain range encompasses majority of the country’s 68 Protected Areas in the country.”

The Harvard-trained lawyer added that the desire to utilize Sierra Madre’s vast resources to spur national development should be balanced with sustained and inclusive conservation efforts.

“We must always be mindful of the need to use our resources sustainably. Hindi puwedeng walang sistema at walang pakundangan ang paggamit natin sa mga biyaya ng kalikasan,” Nograles said.

The SMDA could guarantee that the mountain range’s Protected Areas remain untouched while at the same time identify areas that could be developed, he also said.

The mountain range encompasses the majority of the country’s sixty-eight (68) Protected Areas in the country, including national parks, watershed forest reserves, natural monuments, marine reserves, protected landscapes, and seascapes. 

Nograles added that such a body would also spearhead the government’s campaigns to stop illegal logging and promote forestation, avoid construction of unwarranted infrastructures, enhance and develop indigenous resources in the areas that can be utilized for development and providing information/ information dissemination about the importance of Sierra Madre in our daily living.

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