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Ledesma endorses enactment of PES ordinance

“MANY say God will provide through the bounty of nature but if we let nature generate itself it will take thousands of years to recover.”

This was the message, in part, of Most Reverend Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the Roman Catholic Church-Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, regarding the proposed ordinance providing for the promotion of ecological services protection and imposing regulatory fees for the use thereof, as read by Dr. Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit, Executive Director of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC) during this week’s regular session presided over by Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy.

The proposed ordinance, whose purpose is to restore the environment in the city and the entire ecosystem, was drafted as early as 2013 but is still subject for adoption by the 19th City Council, the archbishop recalled.

“I would like to tell everyone that if we talk about the environment, it should not be taken as a political unit but rather an ecosystem. Whatever happens to the city, it is affected by what’s going on in the upstream. That we should not work only in the city but also with other municipalities like Talakag, Libona and Baungon, all in Bukidnon,” Ledesma emphasized.

For her part, Quiaoit said that out of the four identified services, the group wanted to focus on the provisioning services of water.

“Many have been criticizing the proposed ordinance because they are saying they are already paying the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD). But the water, being pumped from the ground to your respective households that is the bill that you are paying either in COWD or in whatever water service provider,” she clarified.

The ordinance seeks to reward the environment as the source of the water, particularly the ground water coming from the forest which in turn absorbs rainwater towards the service provider. It pushes for the re-charging of the existing water shed, she further pointed out.

As author of the proposed ordinance, and after hearing all the comments and suggestions raised by Archbishop Ledesma and the CDORBMC, Councilor Ian Mark Q. Nacaya proposed for the city government to provide a signal to the global community that we are now protecting our environment and embracing the ecological services of water.

With a strong civic organization like CDORBMC and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and religious leadership, who have been eagerly pushing for this ordinance, Nacaya expressed hope that the same be duly adopted by the present members of the City Council so as to secure the future generation.

The matter was referred back to the City Legal Office and to the committees on finance and on environment for thorough study with regards to the regulatory fees that should be imposed by the ordinance. (sp)

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