Malacanang abolishes Arroyo-created Task Force on Mindanao River Basin

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/01 August) –  Malacanang has abolished the Arroyo-created Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin Rehabilitation and Development (PTFMRBRD)  “as part of the rationalization and streamlining of the government bureaucracy” and transferred its functions to “regular national government agencies,” principally the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

The Task Force headed by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, was reportedly not informed of its abolition.  Quevedo could not be reached for comment but Ching Ayupan, Task Force Executive Secretary, said they found out about the abolition only when they checked  Malacanang’s website today.

The abolition, contained in Executive Order 50 signed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on July 28, is to be completed within three months from the date of the effectivity of the EO.

The Task Force’s term is supposed to end on  December 31, 2012. At present it has listed 19 priority projects including the preparation of a master plan for the Mindanao River Basin.

At the height of the flooding and water hyacinth problem in Cotabato-Maguindanao in June this year, the  Task Force situation report said that while efforts of local government units, government agencies and non-government organizations are commendable, long-term solutions are needed to be able to prevent this scenario from happening again.”

It said the Mindanao River Basin Integrated Management and Development Master Plan, expected to be completed “by July or August this year”  has identified projects and programs that will address several of these problems

Among the high impact projects the Master Plan identified are the reforestation of the Mindanao River Basin and the creation of an “agency with the necessary powers to implement the Master Plan including comprehensive rehabilitation of MRB.”

Overlap

EO 50 said the functions of the PTFMRBRD “overlap with other national government agencies that can in turn perform the said tasks in line with the government’s policy of rationalizing and streamlining the bureaucracy.”

The national government agencies cited  were created under RA 9996, EO 816 and RA 10121.

Presidential Task Force for the Mindanao River Basin Rehabilitation was created by EO 753 on September 29, 2008  “for the proper and effective implementation of government interventions for the disaster-affected population in the Provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat, and the cities of Cotabato and General Santos of Region XII, and Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan and Lanao del Sur of the ARMM, otherwise known as “MRB affected areas”

This was amended on January 5, 2009, by EO 753-A, making it the Presidential Task Force on Mindanao River Basin Rehabilitation and Development. On February 15, 2010, the President signed EO 753-B amending the 2009 EO and extending the term of the Task Force until December 31, 2012.

RA 9996, signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 17, 2010 created MinDA) which is tasked to “establish an effective institutional mechanism to address the need for a coordinated and integrated approach in the formulation and integration of a Mindanao-wide inter-regional development plans, programs, and projects.”

The River Basin Control Office (RBCO) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mandated to implement EO No 818  (actually EO 816 issued on July 6, 2009) “Declaring the RBCO under the DENR as the Load Government Agency for the Integrated Planning, Management, Rehabilitation, and Development of the Country s River Basins.”

RA 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010,  signed on May 27, 2010,  created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), whose mandate to be implemented by the Office of Civil Defense, is to administer a comprehensive national civil defense and disaster risk reduction and management program.

MinDA’s tasks

Under EO 50, MinDA is tasked to “coordinate the formulation, implementation, and finalization of the Mindanao River Basin (MRB) relief, rehabilitation, and long term development plan, also known as the Mindanao River Basin Management and Development Master Plan.”

It is also tasked to negotiate, apply for, receive and accept grants and donation of funds needed for the relief, rehabilitation and development of the areas affected by the disaster; decide on important interventions that need to be immediately implemented and acted upon; spearhead and coordinate all actions to rehabilitate and develop the MRB affected areas; and conduct resource mobilization activities.

The DENR-RBCO is tasked to “develop a MRB master plan and other technical plans in coordination with the MinDA and NDRRMC-OCD and provide technical assistance in the formulation, institutionalization and mobilization of appropriate rivet basin level organization for the MRB that will be self-sustaining and will have a multi-sectoral composition in line with the Philippine Development Plan

The  National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council-Office of Civil Defense (NDRRMC-OCD) is tasked to ensure that  the MRB and the MRB Management and Development Master Plan are consistent with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan and Framework, and to identify and package relief rehabilitation and long term interventions for the MRB affected areas. (MindaNews)

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