The Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XIII played a part in the document evaluation and field validation of identified river systems as entries for the 2018 Search for Recognizing Individuals/Institutions towards Vibrant and Enhanced Rivers (R.I.V.E.R.S.) for Life Award launched by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The DENR Caraga Regional Executive Director, Atty. Felix S. Alicer, issued a Special Order creating the Regional Committee on the R.I.V.E.R.S. for Life Search Program which comprised representatives from DENR Caraga Regional Office and its Line Bureaus. Ms. Christie A. Apale, Senior Science Research Specialist, represented MGB ROXIII in the said committee.  

The primary objective of the award is to raise awareness on the need to
protect and conserve the country’s rivers as the lifeblood of Earth and human civilization. It recognizes the concerted efforts of various stakeholders, specifically the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs), to protect the country’s rivers by applying appropriate mitigation measures and interventions to address problems like pollution and river degradation.

The document evaluation was conducted by the Regional Committee on April 16 to 17, 2019 at the DENR Caraga Regional Training Center in Ambago, Butuan City. Six entries were evaluated, namely Agusan River (CENRO Loreto, Agusan del Sur), Andanan River (CENRO Bayugan, Agusan del Sur), Baoy River (CENRO Tubod, Surigao del Norte), Bislig River (CENRO Bislig, Surigao del Sur), Taguibo River (CENRO Nasipit, Agusan del Norte) and Malinao Inlet (PENRO Province of Dinagat Islands).

The entries were judged using the following criteria – Aesthetics and Water Quality Improvement (35%); Solid Waste Management (25%); Partnership/Community Mobilization (25%) and Information and Education Campaign (15%). =

Five entries, except for Malinao Inlet, have substantially complied with the criteria for the award and were thus subjected to field validation on April 24 to 26, 2019 in order to determine the extent of compliance, thoroughness and quality of work demonstrated by the implementing CENROs concerned.

During the field validation, the Regional Committee paid courtesy calls on the CENRO officials and staff to inform them of the brief mechanics, procedures and purpose of the R.I.V.E.R.S. for Life Program. Future enhancements in the implementation of the said program were imparted as well. The same was also conducted to local government officials (barangay local government units) as partners in the implementation of noteworthy interventions to protect the rivers in the area and to encourage them to continually support the program. Key Informant Interview (KII) was done to verify if the stakeholders are aware and have actively participated in the R.I.V.E.R.S. for Life activities.

The Regional Committee has generally observed that every CENRO has initiated clean-up drives and tree planting activities along the rivers. Considering that they have made a valuable start, there is still a need to conduct other initiatives to improve and enhance the quality/value of rivers such as enforcement of effective solid waste management and stoppage of illegal small-scale quarrying activities.

Upon comprehensive evaluation and determination of compliance, thoroughness and quality of work, the Regional Committee has found Bislig River to be eligible as Caraga Region’s official entry for the 2018 R.I.V.E.R.S. for Life Award.