Key water experts in the country are looking at making Negros Oriental as “Center of Excellence for Water” in the Philippines for its various approaches to successful water conservation and management initiatives.
Amor Maclang, director of the Water Excellence Philippines, made the announcement during a two-day “ridge-to-reef” tour in Negros Oriental Tuesday and Wednesday, with members of the national and local media, accompanied by water experts.
She said Water Excellence Philippines is working closely with the provincial government, through the Office of the Governor, and the multi-sectoral Integrated Water Resources Management Council, to make Negros Oriental a center for excellence in water management.
“I’m proud to say that of all the places we have been involved in, whether for advocacy in tourism or the environment, I think Negros Oriental has the highest per capita in terms of environmental conscious LGUs (local government units) and people and businesses,” Maclang said.
Some municipalities in Negros Oriental already have their best practice for water management, she added.
Maclang said there is water crisis in Cebu but not too many are talking about it as other issues hold the attention of the public, such as the appointment of Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government as standard bearer of Liberal Party in the 2016 elections, or Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alternative State of the Nation Address.
“Unless the right kind of attention is provided, each of the urban issues will fall like a domino if not addressed,” added Maclang, who highlighted the importance of water to development but lamented there is no concerted effort in conserving water.
The “ridge-to-reef” event included visits to the province’s marine protected sanctuaries, watersheds, Lake Balinsasayao, and the wastewater treatment facility of Dumaguete City.
University of the Philippines Los Baños professor, Rex Victor Cruz, who is also a water expert, lauded the water conservation and management program of Negros Oriental, especially its management of watersheds.
He also noted the participation and support of the LGUs in sustainable efforts for the watersheds.
Charlie Fabre, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said Negros Oriental is the only province in the Philippines whose LGUs have finalized their individual Forest Land Use Plans, with only one municipality finishing up with its own.
Negros Oriental also has the biggest mechanized nursery in the country, and leads in the implementation of the National Greening Program of the government.
Assistant provincial administrator Froilan Pinili said the Integrated Water Resources Management Council will soon come up with the Implementing Rules and Regulations. It was created in 2009, by virtue of a provincial ordinance, initially for the protection and conservation of the Ilog-Hinabangan Rivers in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, and is composed of multiple sector representatives from the government, non-government organizations, and the academe, among others.
A water conference will be held in Dumaguete City next week, with experts on water conservation, environmental protection and similarly natured areas as guest speakers.*JFP