By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas is gearing up for a massive cleanup and rehabilitation of Malandog River in Hamtic, Antique.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier visited Iloilo to learn how the city government rehabilitated and sustained the Iloilo River, as he replicate these efforts in other parts of the country where rivers are heavily polluted.
“I want to make the Iloilo River to be a model of how we can rehabilitate our rivers nationwide, especially in Metro Manila,” Cimatu said.
During a meeting with DENR regional officials and personnel, Cimatu emphasized the mandate of the agency and the laws it has to enforce to ensure the protection of the environment.
“The DENR is mandated to implement the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. These (laws) were passed to protect the environment,” Cimatu said.
Last April 28, the DENR through its Environmental Management Bureau in Western Visayas enjoined the local government of San Jose, Antique and the Advance Central College to undertake a regular and sustained cleanup and rehabilitation of Malandog river under its “Adopt-an-Estero” program.
“Malandog River was recently a beneficiary of a joint cleanup agreement among the local government of San Jose, Antique, the Advance Central College and the Environmental Management Bureau-Region 6 under the department’s Adopt-an-Estero program,” said Jim Sampulna, regional director of DENR-Western Visayas.
Under the agreement, a comprehensive program on pollution reduction would be implemented, including the conduct of dredging and desilting, as the river has deteriorated due to siltation and pollution.
Part of the planned rehabilitation of Malandog is the adoption of combined eco-friendly and engineering interventions like phyto-remediation, construction of wetlands, planting of bamboos and other plant species along the river banks, rip-rapping or coco-matting, and construction and greening of linear parks.
Malandog River is historically important to Antique residents as this is where the first Malayan settlers landed in the 12th century.
The river has also served as a venue of Antique’s annual festival called Tiringbanay, which means “tiringub” or “to be together” – a celebration of the togetherness of families in honor of St Joseph the Worker, its patron saint.