CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Aspiring to set a Guinness world record, the city government in this Pampanga capital mobilized 20,000 volunteers on Friday for what it dubbed the biggest waterways cleanup in the country.
Volunteers from the city government, regional government offices, military and police, students and out-of-school youth, senior citizens and workers from private companies were sent to a
17-kilometer stretch of the San Fernando River and its tributaries to chart the record-breaking feat, according to Michael Quizon Jr, officer in charge of the environment and natural resources office (Enro) here.
The Enro will submit records of the event to the Guinness World Records Corporate Division to make official its bid for the new record. The Guinness website has not yielded any information on waterways cleanup, Quizon said.
The San Fernando River is fed by the Sapang Balen River in the boundaries of Mabalacat and Angeles cities in northern Pampanga, draining through Del Carmen Creek.
Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, chair of the League of Cities of the Philippines, initiated the Sagip-Ilog (Save the River) project in 2007 to ease flooding.
The city government cleared the banks of illegal structures, relocating families at risk through a project by the National Housing Authority.
The Department of Public Works and Highways used part of its P450-million loan to widen and deepen the river and make a cutoff channel. Still, several residents use creeks as dumping sites of garbage in violation of an ordinance banning this.
In the whole-day cleanup, the volunteers rode on bancas or wore rubber boots to be able to reach the middle reaches and remove the trash, silt and other debris there by hand or using metal rakes.
Students like Ruth Pineda, 17, worked near the Palawe Bridge, wondering when residents would stop the dumping garbage on waterways.
Speaking at the kickoff, Rodriguez thanked the volunteers for making cleanliness “a way of life.”
“There should be no sliding back to the days when our river and creeks are dirty. We should continue to preserve our environment for the next generation and ensure a quality life for them,” he said.
The cleanup is part of the observance of the 12th anniversary of the cityhood of San Fernando and contribution in the cleanup of the Manila Bay on orders from the Supreme Court.
Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation, which helps the city manage its solid waste, lauded the city government for reviving the river both for flood management and recreation.
The San Fernando River is targeted for tagging as a water quality management area (WQMA).
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has named as
WQMAs the Pinacanauan de Tuguegarao in Cagayan, the Balili River straddling Baguio City and La Trinidad town in Benguet, the Imus-Ylang Ylang-Rio Grande River system in Cavite, the Calapan River system in Oriental Mindoro and the Davao River and Tumaga River, both in Mindanao.
As of July 2012, the DENR reported sealing 315 agreements for the cleanup of 168 waterways. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon