Baguio rehab to take 3 years
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año estimated on Sunday that Baguio City’s rehabilitation could take three years based on the extent of the city’s environmental degradation in the last three decades.
In an interview aired Sunday over radio station dzBB, Año said the rehabilitation was off to a good start but pointed out that it would probably take three years to revive Baguio City.
“We will start with the most important aspects which need immediate action from the national government and Baguio City government,” he pointed out.
The interior secretary was in Baguio City last Friday to oversee the initial stage of rehabilitation efforts, part of which is a recommendation for President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a moratorium on construction in the city.
“In the last 3 years, between 2014 and 2017, Baguio City had 700,000 pine trees which have been reduced to 400,000 because the 300,000 have either died from old age or were cut down to pave the way for the development of buildings and houses,” he said.
Fewer trees, he added, paved the way for pollution and a vastly reduced water supply.
He pointed out, “The truth is 2,000 people died because of pollution [in the city].”
“Water is not enough for tourists and residents. If the number of trees was reduced, there is no water retention. Houses receive water in rations which did not happen before,” the DILG secretary said.
He noted that the biggest problems now in Baguio City were waste and the fecal and coliform level which is almost at 35 billion most probable number (mpn) at the Balili and Bued rivers, “worse than in Manila Bay.”
Manila Bay had fecal and coliform levels at 1.9 billion mpn prior to rehabilitation efforts.
Año said the sewerage system in Baguio City needed fixing and a material recovery facility had to be set up.
“We never thought Baguio City would face an environmental problem. The city was very much abused,” Año said. “It is really time to rehabilitate Baguio City.”
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