DAGUPAN CITY – The city government is on the right track in keeping its rivers clean from illegal structures and river debris under the program ‘Sa Ilog Ko, May Pagbabago’.

This was  underscored  by  University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) professor Dr. Caroline Jaraula who came to Dagupan along with two other researchers last December 7 and 8 upon the invitation of  Mayor Belen T. Fernandez for them  to help  in her  continuing effort to improve and clean the rivers for the benefit of small fisherfolk.

Her team conducted what they called ‘Reconnaissance Survey of the River System’ for two days, an activity which involved the investigation of   the city’s river tributaries and were visibly impressed on the “live artery of the city”.

“You have a healthy river which is healthy for the economy, healthy for livelihood and healthy for the whole system. Dagupan revolves around these rivers. They are beautiful. They have a lot of mangroves with a lot of promising results and activities,” said Jaraula.

The city has seven tributaries, the Mangueragday River, Tanap River, Dawel River, Calmay River, Pantal River, Patogcawen River and Bayaoas River.

Calmay River extends from Lucao, Carael, Tapuac, Poblacion Oeste, Calmay, Lomboy, Salapingao and Pugaro Suit; Pantal River from Pantal, Barangay 1, Barangay II and III, Pogo Chico, Pogo Grande, Lasip Grande, Malued, Bacayao Sur and Lasip Chico; Dawel River is along Dawel area; Tanap River is in Bonuan Gueset; Mangueragday is in Bonuan Binloc; Patogcawen is in Tambac; while Bayaoas River extends from Mamalingling, Bolosan, Manguin and Salisay.

Jaraula also commended the city for dredging the river and went on to recommend that dredging should start at the mouth of the Calmay River in Pugaro due to the high concentration of silt from upstream found in the area.

“Maganda yong political will sa Dagupan na linisin ang ilog lalo na sa mga structures na nakahambalang sa mga ilog,” said Jaraula referring to the city’s aggressive campaign against illegal fish pens and in taking efforts to retrieve submerged fishnets and bamboo stumps in the bottom of the river.

Initially, the team recommended that each river system be developed according to their potentials in tourism, fishing, waterways, navigation, bird watching, among others.

On the operation of fish pens, Jaraula implied that this is the call of the city whether it will allow its operation provided that a place should be identified as a suitable area for this type of structure with maximum size and number in order to maintain the river’s sustainability.

It’s overwhelming to note the healthy conditions of the rivers “kasi maraming puedeng ma-develop at pag-aralan. We just need to enhance these,” said Jaraula.

The team will make a further study on the data gathered and will submit its results to the city as soon as this is ready.

Mayor Fernandez and Dr. Jaraula met during the 3rd International River Summit in Cagayan De Oro attended by 800 participants from local, national and international authorities, policy experts, river managers, public and private sectors, academe, indigenous communities, church base organizations, marginalized sectors and other river advocates.

Among the most important topics discussed during the summit were on River Laws and Policies, Sustainable Funding Mechanisms, River Best Practices, Community Empowerment, and Integrated Coastal Management.

“This is the challenge for us Dagupeños to step forward, to level up and continue with our advocacy to rehabilitate our river system and support the livelihood of our fisherfolks. And we will not stop until we have achieved our goal,” said Mayor Fernandez. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Dec. 13, 2016)