Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope that more private companies will join the government in its environmental initiatives following the launch of the P1-billion Tullahan-Tinajeros dredging project last Monday.

The project, which involves the 5.25-km portion of the Tullahan-Tinajeros River System from Barangay Catmon in Malabon City to Barangay Bagumbayan South in Navotas City, is a joint undertaking by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Cimatu described the dredging project as a “perfect example of collaboration between the government and private sector.”

“This is a partnership forged in trust, joined by a vision, and driven by passion,” Cimatu said during the groundbreaking ceremony for the project held at the Navotas Centennial Park.

He added: “More than the fact that we cannot do it alone, this commitment of [SMC] to help us in this enormous task magnifies the importance of shared responsibility. As we are all part of the problem, one way or another, we can all be part of the solution.”

The DENR chief hoped the partnership would inspire other private firms to include in their corporate social responsibility the cleanup of waterways.

Cimatu could not thank SMC enough for adopting the Tullahan River which cleanup, he said, is critical to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

In cleaning Tullahan River, Cimatu said the government will have “an easier task of cleaning Manila Bay.”

“Also by doing so, we will help prevent flooding. That is hitting three birds with one stone,” he added.

Cimatu noted that the 59.24-km river system—which starts from La Mesa Dam in Quezon City, passes through the cities of Valenzuela and Malabon, and drains into the Manila Bay at the Navotas Centennial Park—is the longest of all rivers that bring polluted water to the historic bay.

“Its (Tullahan river) average coliform level is already very far from the safe and allowable level,” he lamented.

For his part, SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon Ang assured that the corporation will shoulder all operating expenses, including manpower, to ensure the project will be completed on time.

“We make sure that whatever project we started in the private sector, we will finish it,” Ang said.

The dredging project is covered by the memorandum of agreement entered into by the DENR with SMC last year.

The agreement formalized SMC’s participation in the Adopt-A-River program, a priority initiative of the DENR and a key strategy to address the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court to clean up Manila Bay.

The SMC pledged P1 billion for the dredging and clean up of the river system, including the purchase of backhoes, cranes with claw, dump trucks, barges and fuel. ###