Lawmaker renews call for proposed Sierra Madre Dev’t Authority

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — A bill filed in the House of Representatives seeks to establish the Sierra Madre Development Authority (SMDA) to protect and conserve the mountain range.

Rizal Fourth District Rep. Fidel Nograles, author of House Bill No. 1972 which was filed on July 14, renewed his call to create the agency to protect Sierra Madre amid the onslaught of strong typhoons to the country.

“Amid the threat of Karding, Sierra Madre has once again shown just how crucial it is in protecting us against extreme weather events. The SMDA will help us preserve this shield in the face of a worsening climate crisis,” Nograles said.

If the bill is passed into law, the SMDA will oversee government initiatives to combat illegal logging and reforestation, stop the construction of illegal infrastructure, develop indigenous resources in places suitable for development, and raise awareness for the mountain range's value.

The SMDA will also be required to conduct an extensive inventory of the physical and natural resources in the Sierra Madre region and to establish a detailed strategy to protect and utilize them to promote the region's social and economic development.

In accordance with Save Sierra Madre Day and after facing the howling winds of Typhoon Karding, many Filipinos expressed concern once more for Sierra Madre — the Philippines’ longest mountain range. 

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration placed some areas east of Central Luzon under Signal No. 4 before Karding made landfall.

Karding’s strength only decreased when it hit the Sierra Madre mountains in Aurora on Sunday evening. The typhoon continued to weaken as it moved further inland.

Maraming nagsasabi na ‘we got lucky’ at naiwasan natin ang mas matinding sakuna na dala ng Karding. Pero hindi natin dapat inaasa ang kapakanan natin sa swerte. We must act, and we must act now,” Nograles said.

[Translation: Many say ‘we got lucky’ as we avoided a heavier disaster due to Karding. But we should not rely on luck for our well-being. We must act, and we must act now.]

Karding has so far left five rescuers in San Miguel, Bulacan dead while around 52,000 people were evacuated due to the typhoon.

The lawmaker pushed for more “aggressive, strategic and comprehensive” efforts against the climate crisis and said the creation of SMDA could help unify these efforts.