Gina offers help in reviving Mandaue river
CEBU CITY—Former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has offered to help revive a river in Cebu province, considered one of the country’s most polluted waterways.
Lopez, in a visit here on Wednesday, said Butuanon River, which stretches from Metro Cebu and empties out to sea through Mactan Channel, could still be rehabilitated because even if this river had been declared “biologically dead” in 1992, its condition was not yet as bad as Pasig River’s.
“People just need to love the river and not make it a dumping area,” she said.
The 23-kilometer river starts from the mountain areas of Metro Cebu and ends at Mactan Channel with almost half of it passing through Mandaue City.
But pollution slowly killed the river, which had become the dumping ground of wastes, not just from the informal settlers but also from at least 62 business establishments in Mandaue.
The Mandaue government has partnered with several government agencies to rehabilitate Butuanon in time for the 4th International River Summit that would be hosted by the city next year.
Part of the efforts to rehabilitate the river was tapping the help of Lopez, chair of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, who visited the river after meeting with local and environment officials and business leaders in Mandaue.
The organizing committee of the Butuanon River rehabilitation project briefed Lopez about the city’s plan that features the construction of parks, a commercial strip and mid-rise housing near the river.
The City Environment and Natural Resources Office started meeting with owners of establishments along the Mandaue side of the river to discuss their waste disposal system.
They were also coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways for the project’s flood control aspect and with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which promised to help in the river’s slope protection.
Another concern was the siltation that made the river shallower, which was allegedly caused by the rapid development in the upstream or in the mountain barangays of Cebu City.
Lopez, in her presentation, showed her projects in the rehabilitation of Pasig River, a bigger and longer river than Butuanon, with 48 estero (estuary) where thousands of informal settlers live.
Lopez said these estero, which used to be choked with garbage, had been transformed into small parks where ornamental plants were grown. Lopez said she believed this could also be done for Butuanon River.
Councilor Carmelino del Mar later took the group to a newly developed park along Butuanon River that officials and residents of Barangay Ibabao-Estancia were maintaining. Trees were planted on riverbanks to prevent soil erosion and ease flooding.
Lopez urged city officials to tap “river warriors” to help monitor the cleanliness of the river and apprehend violators of environmental laws.
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