AFIA major push for the rehabilitation of the Pasig River is now under way with the launch of “Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig,” a multi-sectoral cleanup drive spearheaded by ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).
AFI managing director Gina Lopez said during the project launch at the Makati Park and Garden that the project aims to achieve zero toxic input into the river and its 47 major and minor tributaries, esteros and creeks.
“No matter how much money you spend to clean it, the river is still going to be dirty,” Lopez said. “We have to change the way we look at the river. We should use the media to awaken the consciousness and the reverence that people should have for the Pasig River.”
A study by the PRRC showed that 60% of the garbage dumped in the river comes from households, while industries contribute 35%.
The “Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig” proponents will create “clean river zones,” areas along the river where the discharge of toxic waste will be minimized or eliminated using facilities for the treatment of solid and water wastes. To this end, some 1,100 informal settlers living on the banks of the river will be relocated to Calauan, Laguna, with private sponsors providing housing, education and health facilities and livelihood assistance. Another batch of 4,040 settlers will also be relocated.
Lopez stressed that, in addition to the media, the support of the private sector and local government units was needed to help ensure the project’s success. “Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig” aims to raise at least P700 million to acquire the technology and meet operational expenses needed to clean the Pasig River within seven years.
Seven Metro Manila mayors have pledged support for the “Kapit Bisig sa Ilog Pasig” project: Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City, Alfredo Lim of Manila, JV Ejercito of San Juan, Marides Fernando of Marikina, Jejomar Binay of Makati, Ben Hur Abalos of Mandaluyong, Sigfrido Tiñga of Taguig and Vicente Eusebio of Pasig.
Goldilocks Bakeshop, Manila Water Co., Maynilad Water Services Inc., the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Vice President Noli de Castro, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza also vowed to help.
“Just imagine, if we succeed in cleaning the Pasig River, this can be a model for all the endangered river systems in the country. We’re sending a signal to everybody else that you need to revere the river because…it is your life,” Lopez said.
Shown in photo are (L-R) QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte; Pasig Mayor Vicente Eusebio; National Housing Authority general manager Arch. Diogracias Tablan; AFI managing director and PRRC executive director Gina Lopez; Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay; and MMDA technical consultant Martin Ongpin.