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DAVAO CITY — After a year of activity hiatus due to pandemic, the dredging of Naboc River has finally commenced, immediately after a brief launching ceremony last March 12, 2021 in Brgy. Naboc, Monkayo, Davao de Oro.

The ceremony was especially graced by the Sec. Roy A. Cimatu along with other DENR Central and Regional top officials, members of the local government units of the province headed by Davao de Oro Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy, members of the province’s indigenous cultural communities as well as the dredgers or holders of the Industrial Sand and Gravel (ISAG) permits.  

It can be recalled that in 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-XI) launched the β€œLihok Alang sa Naboc”, a cleanup operation for the 24-km Naboc river in Brgy. Mt. Diwata, Diwalwal, Monkayo, Davao de Oro. The project is pursuant to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of his complete disgust on the condition of the said river during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) back in 2017. 

The river’s high content of hazardous chemicals such as mercury, cyanide and fecal coliform has exceeded the water quality standards for Class C Rivers which can be attributed to the illegal ore processing plant operations in the upstream of the said barangay.  

Prior to the commencement of the dredging, the DENR has conducted series of conferment and preliminary activities. These include issuance of Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against the carbon and pulp and ball mill operators and have them transferred from Mt. Diwata to Mabatas Mineral Zone in Brgy. Upper Ulip, Monkayo. 

There were also river cleanup activities, signing of agreement between the LGU and the DENR for the rehabilitation, desilting and quarrying of the river, site identification for the installation of mercury-recovery facilities, constant water sampling, conduct of sample dredging as well as an all-out stoppage of mineral processing operations for those who still did not transfer to the allotted processing zone.  

Currently, and as planned, the 9.98 km part of the river will be dredged mechanically. The stretch is subdivided into nine (9) quarry blocks within the dimension of 1-kilometre long, 40- meters wide and 2-meters deep in average while the 14.02 km of it, mostly upstream will undergo desilting process.

β€œNaboc river is alarmingly choked with heavy metals which are hazardous both to the health of the people and the environment. Our target is to make the river free from these chemicals, particularly mercury, and the only way to do it is to conduct dredging.” said Sec. Roy Cimatu in his speech. 

The Secretary also challenged the river rehabilitators to make the operation a success. He emphasized that there is no other option but to succeed and that the project is one that β€œwe cannot afford to fail.”

Gov. Uy likewise expressed the commitment of the local government of Davao de Oro to support and pursue the sustainable project, all for the common good of the province’s constituents.   

Dredging forms part of the full-scale rehabilitation of the Naboc River, an all-out effort to restore its clean, pristine and toxic-free condition. 

 As parting words, Sec. Cimatu called for the people of Monkayo’s full participation. β€œWe are here to help and guide you, but as soon as we already give you the means to [rehabilitate], do your share, help clean your very own river,” he said.

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