The Save Palawan Movement (SPM) is urging concerned local and national government agencies to take action immediately to aid in the recovery of flood-affected villages in the province of Palawan, which are thought to be linked to a number of environmental issues.
The socio-civic organization said in a statement released Friday that the unprecedented flooding in Southern Palawan highlights flaws in land use planning, natural resource management, and disaster risk reduction and management.
The recent floods in Narra and other towns in Southern Palawan, according to SPM, should be seen as a severe and increasing development threat to the country’s last ecological frontier.
It acknowledged the many disaster relief efforts made by individuals, civil society groups, and government officials both within and beyond the province to help flood victims. However, what happened should provide insights into land use and risk reduction planning.
“The record-breaking flooding in Southern Palawan should provide us with insights on how we deal with our land use planning and disaster risk management,” it said.
“An urgent action is the conduct of a participatory and transparent assessment of the flooding incidents to determine the impact of extractive and infrastructure development activities, to review existing DRRM plans and identify the appropriate responses based on such assessment,” SPM added.
The SPM also asks whether local governments in Southern Palawan are incorporating land use planning, identifying flood-prone areas, and operationalizing the DRRM Law of RA 10121, as well as why natural forest areas are being deforested and converted to mining and plantation development areas.
Timber poaching, illegal logging, and charcoal production are still causing environmental problems, it said.
Additionally, SPM is asking if concerned authorities are carrying out enforcement activities on why roads are being extended to six lanes without feasibility studies, and if the drainage system and floodways have been built as part of the highway development.
“Forests play a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation and should be conserved, protected and restored. In the conduct of land use and DRRM planning, have concerns such as topography, geohazard zones, settlements, livelihood areas, infrastructure development, among others, been seriously considered?,” SPM said.
“Flood risk management must be linked to land use planning, land tenure, provision of basic services, livelihood and climate change adaptation,” it added.
SPM called on the local government units, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Public Works in Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to revisit the existing land use, local development and investment plans, and DRRM plans.
Also, they called on agencies to ensure that the planning processes are scientific, evidence-based, participatory, and transparent.
“No matter how challenging the ongoing floods may seem, we should view this phenomenon as an opportunity to build safer and stronger communities who can withstand flooding better in the future,” SPM added.