The Pasig River Task Force (PRTF) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) met with more than 200 barangay captains of the city of Manila on December 4 and 5 to give an update on its accomplishments and discuss its planned activities.

The DENR was joined by the Department of Public Works and Highways(DPWH), Environmental Management Bureau of NCR (EMB-NCR), and the Department of Public Services (DPS) of Manila in the two-day event.

The PRTF was created pursuant to DENR Special Order 2019-482 to spearhead the rehabilitation of the Pasig River and its tributary esteros located in the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong and Pasig. It is led by DENR Assistant Secretaries Corazon C. Davis and Joan A. Lagunda.

Other members of the task force are the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), National Water Resources Board (NWRB),Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

During the meeting, Asec Davis stressed that barangay chairmen are the key to win the war on garbage along esteros.

The PRTF discussed with the concerned barangays the accomplishments of the task force and its planned activities for the 24 esteros in Manila that drain to the Pasig River.

Engr. Pedro M. Bulusan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)said the DPWHriver bank improvement projects along the esteros particularly sheet piling and grubbing,aim to improve the flow of water in the city’s waterways.

He noted, however, that the presence of informal settler families (ISFs) along the esterosstall the rehabilitation in some parts of the esteros.PRTF has plans for the immediate relocation of the ISFs.

On the other hand, Gill Francisco of EMB-NCR discussed the hiring of more than 600 estero rangers to support the task force. The employment, deployment, and tasks of the esterorangers in their specific barangays were discussed in the meeting.For their part, the barangay captains raised local issues and concerns for their planned activities with other government agencies.

In the meeting, the ManilaDPSdiscussed the “Kolek, Kilo, Kita para saWalastiknaMaynila,”program of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno in partnership with Unilever Philippines, Cemex, and Republic Cement. The program targets to reduce plastic sachet wastes by replacing every kilo of collected flexible plastic with P10.00 worth of Unilever products at factory price. Since the program’s initial rollout in October, the DPS has already collected more than twelve tons of plastic fromthe residents.

Mayor Moreno has earlier proposed two programs to address the garbage problem in Manila. These include “PerasaBasura” which aims to reduce solid waste by exchanging recyclable materials for food, and “Pinakamalinisna Barangay” to challenge the more than 800 barangays of Manila to manage their solid waste. The DENR and the local government of Manila are jointly preparing the guidelines for both programs.###