Political Will To Ensure Pasig River’s Rehabilitation

A reader who goes by the name of “asapakayo” sent me an insightful comment on my article “Should The Government Remove Factories Along Pasig River?“. I’m reposting it here:

Do you seriously think this administration will be able to revive Pasig River? Have you been living under a rock? Former President Fidel Ramos was a civil engineer and he failed to bring the river back to life. His successor, Joseph Estrada, was — well — never mind. And, how about Former President Gloria Arroyo? Nada.

What makes you think or rather hope President Benigno Aquino III has what it takes to reclaim Pasig River from those who have made it their backyard? I’m not only referring to the informal settlers who have made the banks of Pasig River their home and toilet. There are much bigger fish to fry. Of course I’m talking about the big companies that continue to operate their factories along the river.

I have a theory. These big companies and some of the squatters along Pasig River are in league with each other. Do a visual inspection and take note of the physical layout of the squatter colonies. You will notice that these colonies are usually in close proximity to these companies’ manufacturing plants, factories, and warehouses. It’s as if the shanties serve as buffer, a protective wall for those industrial facilities.

Believe you me, this administration will not succeed in rehabilitating Pasig River unless it develops serious political will. Rehabilitating the river requires lots of it. For how else should the government deal with the squatters and the local and multinational companies that continue to operate along the river and its tributaries.

Piecemeal solutions such as clean up operations done one estero at a time are not effective. It’s obvious more needs to be done all at once. Remove the source of the pollution you prevent further damage to the river.

Will the Aquino administration dare pursue this approach. No chance in hell. So stop this nonsense about Pasig River’s rehabilitation. Just accept the fact it’s dead.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we just dump soil and cement into the river and turn it into reclaimed real estate?

I must say, while I disagree with Asapakayo’s lack of any faith in the possibility that this administration would be able to turn things around for Pasig river, I can relate to his observation that political will is what is needed.

Asapakayo also pointed out something that I also observed. As I wrote before on this blog, I am not a fan of all those marketing-driven campaigns such as fun runs and the like. My aversion to these activities stems from the belief that these are actions too little too late. Like Asapakayo, I am convinced the government needs to take drastic measures if it’s really serious about reviving the river.

Just last night, I came across a statement from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Here’s the report from the online edition of BusinessWorld:

Nation

Posted on 07:00 PM, August 13, 2010

DENR to clean up esteros before tackling the Pasig River

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Friday it would clean up the esteros that drain into the Pasig River before rehabilitating the river itself.

Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje said in a statement that together with Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), initial targets for the clean-up would be the Estero de Paco and the Estero de San Miguel in Manila.

“One of the marching orders of President Aquino for the DENR is to clean up major waterways not only in Metro Manila but also in other urban centers in the country,” Mr. Paje said. — Kathleen A. Martin

To be honest about it, I dismissed the DENR’s statement as nothing more than a standard issue motherhood statement reaction to President Aquino’s own media event, which you can see in the following video:

If the DENR will tackle the river’s rehabilitation this way then we might as well just forget it. I think in one of his interviews, President Aquino himself took note of the fact that these esteros don’t stay garbage-free for long. The reason is staring us in the face. The continued presence of squatter colonies in these tributaries will ensure household waste will continue to find their way to the river.

And what about the big companies operating plants and factories along the river? As I pointed out before, the government should remove the source of pollution. I’d be a fool to think that those industrial facilities do not contribute to Pasig River’s filthy state.

Depending on the source, some reports say that much of the waste that goes into the river come from households. Other reports show that industrial waste makes up the bulk of it. After researching for all these figures, I have come to the conclusion that none of these data matter. Why should they when some of these so-called scientific studies were probably made with the backing of interest groups.

I dare say that the only proof we need that the river needs to be rid of everything — squatter colonies and industrial facilities — is the river’s present state.

Would you consider taking a dip in that cesspool and run the risk of ingesting a few ounces of that murky river water? How about the much touted aquatic life that some interest groups claim to have reappeared in the river thanks to their clean-up efforts? Would you dare sink your teeth into them?

I am 100% in agreement with Asapakayo. This administration needs to develop some serious political will if it wants to pursue the rehabilitation of Pasig River. It should start developing a massive plan covering the relocation of informal settlers to communities that  would allow them to lead productive lives; and the removal of all factories and manufacturing plants along the full length of the river and its tributaries. Pursuing only one of these two tasks will not be good enough. If this administration will do it that way then I guess Asapakayo’s idea of turning the river into reclaimed land may just be worth considering.

(Coming Soon: How much are the big companies contributing really to the Pasig River rehabilitation initiative?)

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One Response to Political Will To Ensure Pasig River’s Rehabilitation

  1. Pingback: “Awareness to Action”: Let’s make sure we don’t stop at awareness this time | Pasig River Avenger

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