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From muck to park: Revival of QC creeks shows first results

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 01:03 AM January 25, 2015
Pasong Tamo creek now offers a leisurely stroll thanks to a P9.5-million linear park, whose construction required the relocation of some 200 informal settlers from the banks. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Pasong Tamo creek now offers a leisurely stroll thanks to a P9.5-million linear park, whose construction required the relocation of some 200 families of informal settlers from the banks. JAYMEE GAMIL / INQUIRER

Efforts to clean up the Pasig River and its tributaries are finally transforming squalid waterways in Quezon City into inviting stretches of greenery.

An example is Pasong Tamo creek which now has a linear park defining its banks where residents can take a leisurely stroll, something that was virtually impossible if not a risky thing to do two years ago.

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The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) formally unveiled on Friday the urban renewal projects for the creek, the first of three waterways in Quezon City that are up for redevelopment.

The other two are the San Francisco River and Culiat creek. All three are connected to San Juan River, which in turn flows into the Pasig River.

PRRC executive director Ronald Naguit said the 380-meter linear park is just the first part of the P48.5-million makeover planned for the 2.4-kilometer Pasong Tamo creek, which runs along Teresa-Fullon-San Miguel Village in Barangay Bahay Toro.

The park took two years to finish as the work also involved dredging and landscaping, all costing about P9.5 million, Naguit said.

But the toughest challenge was clearing the three-meter easement set by the government along the banks and “recovering” this no-build zone from both informal settlers and encroaching property owners, a task that required help from the local government.

Barangay Bahay Toro chair Dennis Caboboy said around 200 informal settler families in his village alone had to relocated to Cavite and Bulacan province.

Always needing rescue

“We told them that the area (where they lived) is a danger zone and that their relocation is for the sake of their families,” Caboboy said in an interview. “We used to rescue them every time there was a storm as it took only minutes for the creek to overflow.”

The waterway was hardly inviting before the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission stepped in.

The waterway was hardly inviting before the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission stepped in. PRRC PHOTO

Equally challenging was convincing private lot owners to allow the redevelopment to take up portions of their properties. “We explained that it’s not just going to be a park: It will serve as a sort of service road that will enable us to clean the creek (regularly). We couldn’t access this area before,” the official pointed out.

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The residents are expected to have a higher appreciation for the work and funding that went into these improvements, as well as develop a sense of responsibility to keep them from going to waste, Caboboy said. “We now have more open spaces for recreation that are aesthetically pleasing. It’s cleaner, safer, and for everybody’s benefit.”

In remarks made during Friday’s inauguration of the park, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista noted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) played an important role in addressing the right-of-way issues that cropped up, especially those involving “private encroachers.”

“The DOJ should be involved from the beginning. So even if the [property owners] sue us, the Supreme Court itself can issue (an order) against them,” the mayor noted.

“That’s why the city government is confident in cleaning up and recovering our creeks,” he said.

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TAGS: Barangay Bahay Toro, cleanup, Culiat creek, Dennis Caboboy, Herbert Bautista, Pasig River, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Pasong Tamo creek, Quezon City creeks, Ronald Naguit, San Francisco River, San Juan River
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