The DENR has issued a 30-day deadline to local officials to start cleaning up the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system in Bulacan of garbage.
During a stakeholders’ meeting at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City, I stressed the need for a collective effort among the seven local government units of Caloocan and Valenzuela in Metro Manila, and of San Jose del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria in Bulacan. The local officials of the said cities and municipalities have been warned that they will be facing administrative charges before the environmental courts should they fail in the rehabilitation of the river system. The Marilao River, which stretches up to 55 kilometers, has been identified as one of the dirtiest rivers in the world by The Blacksmith Institute.
Analysis of the water quality of the river showed excessive levels of heavy metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium, as well as a zero level of dissolved oxygen and exorbitantly high levels of organic pollution. The sources of pollution can also be attributed to heavy industries along the banks of the river such as textile dyeing factories, gold refineries, poultry and livestock growers and food manufacturing businesses.
The continuing mandamus imposed by the Supreme Court last December for Manila Bay’s rehabilitation obligates us at the DENR to take the necessary legal recourse to compel the concerned local government units to do their part in cleaning their rivers whose polluted state directly impacts on the condition of Manila Bay.
At the same time, we called on barangay captains, barangay tanods and other barangay officials to actively help in the clean up effort.
Enough has been done to analyze why the river is dirty, and putting a stop to wanton throwing of garbage into it is the first step.
Last July 9, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau sent notices of violation to the seven LGUs for violation of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, ranging for failure to institute measures on waste segregation (Article 2, sections 21 and 22), collection and transport of solid wastes (Article 3, sections 23 and 24) and on the prohibition against the use of open dumpsites (Article 5, section 37).
Among the provisions under the RA 9003 that the seven LGUs violated are segregation of wastes at source; the collection and transport of solid waste; the establishment of LGU Materials Recovery Facilities; and the prohibition against the use of open and controlled dumps.
I made a surprise inspection of the river in Prenza Dam in Marilao last March to personally assess the progress of the river clean up agreed by the concerned LGUs and the DENR, only to be find the presence of garbage, mostly generated by households, floating in the river. The Prenza Dam was literally covered by a mountain of garbage and instead of serving its function as a water reservoir, the dam looked like a badly managed open dumpsite.