Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael ‘Mike’ D. Sueno is urging local government units (LGUs) near the Pasig River to do their part in restoring the river into its once picturesque and glorious state.
Sueno particularly called on the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Taguig, and the municipality of Pateros where the Pasig River runs along to help save the once pristine river by acting on the domestic waste of residents and informal settler families (ISFs) living along the stream.
“Governance of the water is just as important as governance of the land. It is the duty of LGUs in Metro Manila, where Pasig River spans, to ensure that residents and ISFs do not dispose their domestic waste into the river,” he said.
“If households continue to dump their trash into the river, it makes futile the efforts of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) and other public and private individuals and groups,” he added.
The goal of the PRRC, under the Office of the President, is to restore the Pasig River’s water quality to Class C level that can be suitable for fishery, secondary recreation like boating, and water supply for manufacturing processes after treatment in line with the Commission’s mission of “transforming Pasig River and its environs into a showcase of a new quality of urban life.”
According to the PRRC, the 27-kilometer Pasig River is much cleaner and alive now compared to its condition in 1990s when it was declared as ‘biologically dead’ by ecologists.
Yet aside from waste management, Sueno emphasized that the apt long-term solution of LGUs, together with concerned housing agencies, is to relocate ‘estero families’ within their areas of jurisdictions.
“How can we make Pasig River attractive for tourism and recreation if there are makeshift, crude dwellings and garbage in some parts of the stretch of the river?” he said.
“A higher cause for relocating ISFs is saving them from vulnerability to natural disaster and flooding. Houses are ideally 10 meters away from the river,” he pointed out.
The DILG Secretary also underscored the significance of conscientiously rehabilitating Pasig River as an alternative means of transportation.
He reiterated the call of President Rodrigo Duterte that the revival of the operation of the Pasig River Ferry Service System -- lodged to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) -- is a viable option for the severe traffic congestion in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The MMDA Pasig River Ferry is open on Mondays to Saturdays from 6 am to 4:15 pm with fare starting from P30 to P95. Ferry stations are in Intramuros (Plaza Mexico), Escolta, PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines), and Sta. Ana in Manila City; Guadalupe in Makati City; and San Joaquin and Pinagbuhatan in Pasig City.
Moreover, Sueno appealed to local and international environment advocates in the civil society and private sector to do and share what they can in rehabilitating the Pasig River to renew its noble history and use in socioeconomic activities.
He also shared that the DILG is one of the major agencies involved in the water sector as it has been implementing national water programs like Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat (SALINTUBIG) and Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) - Provision of Potable Water Supply.