THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday that it hopes to reduce flooding during the next rainy season via the dredging of the Cagayan River, with operations to initially focus on three sandbars in the north of Cagayan province.

“Within 100 days, we will be able to partially remove (the) sandbars… (around) Magapit. Kung lalabas ka mga July, makikita na natin ang resulta nito. Makikita natin na mabawasan na itong flooding dahil nakabawas na tayo ng sandbars (You will be able to see results by July in the form of reduced flooding because the sandbars will be partly removed),” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a speech Tuesday at the launch of the Cagayan River Restoration Project.

Mr. Cimatu was referring to the stretch of the river known as the Magapit Narrows, located in the barangay of Bangag in the municipality of Lal-lo and the barangays of Casicallan Norte and Dummun in Gattaran.

The volume of the sandbars is estimated at 7 million cubic meters. The river features are thought to restrict the flow of receding floodwaters into the Aparri Delta and Babuyan Channel.

The Cagayan River overflowed after a series of typhoons late last year, causing widespread flooding in river towns further south.

“Our dredging program is also coupled with nature-based solutions such as the planting of bamboo in stabilizing our river banks. We are also looking at the development of bamboo plantations in Ilagan so we can provide livelihood opportunities,” he said, referring to the capital of Isabela province, also in the Cagayan Valley.

Last month, DENR Regional Executive Director and Regional Build Back Better Task Force Chair Gwendolyn C. Bambalan said various government agencies intend to provide livelihood assistance to residents affected by the river’s rehabilitation.

She said that the Department of Labor and Employment will offer a cash-for-work program for residents, while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will provide livelihood training assistance.

She added that the Department of Public Works and Highways plans to hire mainly locals for dredging. — Angelica Y. Yang