BUTUAN CTY – The Butuan City Watershed Management Council was finally convened by City Mayor, Engr. Ronnie Vicente “RCL” C. Lagnada in pursuance to SP Ordinance 3928-2012 entitled “An Ordinance Addressing the Protection, Conservation, Rehabilitation and Management of the Watershed within the Jurisdiction of Butuan City, Creating the Water Management Council Therefor, and for Other Purposes” otherwise known as the Butuan City Watershed Code. The convening of the council has been put to sleep by the previous administration in spite of its passage in 2012.
In convening the Council, Lagnada laid out the challenges in protecting the watersheds which are the unabated illegal logging, increasing incursions of illegal settlers in the watershed areas, inability to enforce laws and policies, uncoordinated law enforcement between national agencies and local offices and the collusion among stakeholders. To address these challenges, Lagnada vowed to exercise political will in implementing the laws and policies that will protect, preserve and rehabilitate the watersheds. He also vowed to exact responsibility and accountability across stakeholders, develop agro-industrial, agro-forest and eco-tourism in the watershed areas, adoption of organic method of agricultural production and strong people’s participation and empowerment.
It can be recalled that the administration of former Mayor Ferdinand M. Amante, Jr. slept on the implementation of the Butuan City Watershed Code for years which mandates the convening of the Watershed Management Council. The said code was principally authored by then Vice Mayor and now Agusan del Norte First District Representative Lawrence “Law” Fortun. The Council, under the provisions of the Code is mandated to “ensure the implementation of all the provisions of the Watershed Code and its Implementing Rules and Regulations.” But since the previous administration failed to convene the council, it rendered the ordinance ineffective and useless.
For his part, Congressman Fortun expressed elation on the convening of the Council which he said as long overdue. “We pushed hard for the passage of that very important legislation when I was Vice Mayor. The Butuan City Watershed Code, which is a product of collective contribution of different stakeholders, became a law in 2012, only to be relegated to the dustbin because of the reluctance of the former administration to implement it,” Fortun said. The solon added that he is very thankful of the Council being convened because it “is the first essential step in the implementation of the ordinance.”