South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes forged a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Norala Mayor Romeo Januto last week to officially admit the town to the alliance.
The MOA signing was witnessed by mayors Ervin Luntao of Sto. Niño, Ernesto Matias of Isulan, Felipe Allaga of Bagumbayan and Romulo Latog of Esperanza and other members of the alliance’s technical working group.
AVLDA is an aggrupation of public and private entities in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces that manage efforts for the protection and preservation of the Allah River and its watershed.
The agency earlier considered Norala and Banga to become a part of the alliance due to their location, being situated within the Allah Valley landscape.
During the signing of the agreement, Fuentes stressed that it is the responsibility of the local government units within the Allah Valley area to preserve their own environment.
She said the Allah Valley watershed area must be properly protected and maintained as it is the area’s major source of water.
“Promoting environmental protection is one of the best legacies that we can pass on to our next set of leaders,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes said Norala will play a key in the operations of the AVLDA because of its proximity to the Allah Valley landscape’s boundaries.
The alliance also covers the municipalities of Bagumbayan, Esperanza, Isulan, Lambayong and Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat and Sto. Niño, T’boli and Surallah in South Cotabato.
For his part, Januto said the inclusion of his town in the alliance is very important as it will help address the area’s environmental concerns.
He said their biggest concern so far is the alarming condition of Banga River, which has become heavily silted over the last several years.
During the rainy season, the mayor said his area constantly experience heavy crop losses due to the flooding of the river.
Abdula Bansuan, AVLDA executive director, said the inclusion of Norala to the alliance will initially entitle the local government to become a beneficiary of the agency’s projects.
He said the alliance has submitted various project proposals on watershed rehabilitation and management to the Office of the President, World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.