There’s this unresolved question over at Yahoo! Answers, which I would like to answer here in this space. Here’s the question:
Should the Philippine government order the removal of manufacturing plants/factories along the Pasig River?
It’s pretty obvious government and even private sector initiatives to clean up the Pasig River have failed to achieve the desire result. Pasig River remains dirty. There are no indications things will be improving soon.
There are reports of “green” projects meant to reverse the river’s polluted state. Private companies are supposedly contributing money to a common fund meant to be used to save Pasig river.
In my opinion, these are all just publicity stunts meant to soften the negative reputation of many of the companies operating along the river.
Should the government just remove these companies’ plants/factories located along the river?
Here’s my answer:
It cannot be denied that manufacturing plants and factories located along the stretch of Pasig River and its tributaries are responsible for the pollution in this body of water that connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay.
It is only in recent years and only after “environmental awareness” and “going green” became buzzwords that companies responsible for these facilities started adjusting their operations to minimize their impact on the environment. Since then much has already been done to arrest further deterioration of the river. Unfortunately, all efforts toward this done came too little too late.
Personally, I feel ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the river are largely cosmetic and carried out more as a way to cleanse the image and reputations of these companies.
Unilever Philippines has this to say about its “green” efforts:
Our factory in Paco is at the heart of the city of Manila straddling between small tributaries of the Pasig River. The dreadful state and realities of the river are things we see and smell everyday, particularly during the summer months. Pasig River is a 25-km waterway stretching between Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay. It has been a vital part of the history and fortunes of Manila. The object of our campaign is to reverse the fortunes of a dying river and sustain the life of a threatened lake such as Laguna de Bay.
And here are some news reports on supposed clean up efforts done by various private and government entities.
Now let’s point out the obvious. Clean ups like those highlighted in the foregoing reports are nothing but band-aid solutions. I’m not even sure if the word “solution” should even be used to describe them.
I also can’t imagine how doing something so small can address a problem so big. We need only consider the fact that some of these companies continue to produce stuff that eventually find their way into our sewerage systems, esteros and ultimately to Pasig River.
There’s also that nagging question about the credibility of certain initiatives supposedly being carried out for the river’s benefit.
So should the government just order the removal of plants and factories along Pasig River?
The ideal answer would be a resounding yes. Why even bother to hold Pasig River fun runs, pick-and-shovel clean up drives and other marketing-driven “green” initiatives when these efforts do not directly hit the source of pollutants.
Why not just remove the source of pollution from the affected area?