By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Around 37,000 kilograms of garbage were collected in the simultaneous cleanup of Manila Bay tributaries on Sunday.
According to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Jonas Leones, “1,980 volunteers came forward, resulting in the cleanup of garbage with a total volume of 37,103 kilograms of garbage, collected in 5,301 sacks.”
Among the waterways cleaned were Estero de Magdalena, Estero de San Lazaro, Estero de Tripa de Gallina, Paltok Creek, Navotas River, Tullahan River, Tumana Creek, and the San Juan River System.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the massive cleanup of Manila Bay tributaries, dubbed the “Battle for the Rivers and Esteros,” involved communities to empower them in protecting their own waterways.
“I say that the Tullahan River cleanup is the most organized, well-attended, and most prepared in the launching of the Battle for the Rivers and Esteros,” he said.
“It is said that cleaning Tullahan River is impossible. But with the impressive support and commitment of barangay captains, the impossible becomes possible,” he added.
Cimatu reiterated the government was committed to clear Tullahan River of garbage and improve its quality, citing that the river’s coliform level has reached 92 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters (mL).
The acceptable level for Class SB water is only 100 MPN/100 mL.
Cimatu also said the government will also look for proper relocation for the informal settlers living along the river.
“Let us bring back the depth of Tullahan River to prevent flooding,” he said. “Tullahan River is a challenge but we will be able to solve it.”
“We, at the DENR, are doing this (battle) to mobilize community participation through their barangay executives in the cleanup, rehabilitation, education and protection activities in the effort to rehabilitate the Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.