By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
Around 22 tons of garbage have been collected from the rivers of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (Mimaropa) in a simultaneous cleanup of 11 rivers in Southern Luzon.
The cleanup coincided with the launch of the Calapan River rehabilitation project in Oriental Mindoro. The river has been suffering from heavy pollution due to solid waste disposal and untreated wastewater discharge.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, representing Secretary Roy Cimatu in the event, lauded the 9,000 volunteers, who, after two hours, were able to free the rivers from garbage mostly composed of plastic bags, food packaging, and plastic beverage bottles.
“This shows that when we put our efforts together, we can make a big difference for our environment,” Antiporda said.
Aside from the Calapan River, the volunteers also cleaned up Sabang River in Sablayan, and Pandurucan River in San Jose, both in Occidental Mindoro; Boac River in Marinduque; and Bangon-bongoy River in Romblon.
In Palawan, citizens started cleaning up the Umalad River in Roxas, Abongan River in Taytay, Tagburos River in Puerto Princesa City, Buligay River in Brooke’s Point, Panitian River in Quezon, and Sitio Manggahan 1 and 2, and Bakawan Creek in Coron.
DENR-Mimaropa Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado said the degrading state of rivers and the rest of the country’s environment prompted the DENR to employ a strengthened and unified command in terms of law enforcement and rehabilitation of critical areas.
“From the regional down to our provincial and community offices, the DENR offices here in Mimaropa take on the directive of Secretary
Cimatu to work as one in protecting and conserving our environment,” he stated.
The rehabilitation of Calapan River comes on the heels of the issuance of cease and desist orders (CDOs) to two fast food chains on March 7 by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in the region.
The two were found guilty of operating without discharge permits, and releasing into Calapan River partially treated wastewater that exceeded effluent standards.
Antiporda called on the public to stop patronizing establishments issued with CDOs.
He also called on the provincial office to furnish concerned municipal local government units a copy of the violations of the establishments “to serve as basis for temporary cancellation of their business permits.”
Calapan River was designated as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) in 2013. Since then, numerous efforts have been undertaken by the city government to restore its water quality, including the passage of several ordinances consistent with environmental laws.
Declaring a water body as a WQMA beefs up protection initiatives as it requires management action by the local government and other stakeholders.