The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has found another ally in the private sector in rehabilitating critical waterbodies in Metro Manila – the Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp. (SOMCO).

“This time it’s the Maricaban creek situated at the boundaries of Taguig City and Parañaque that will be benefit from this clean up partnership between the DENR and SOMCO,” Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said, representing the agency in the partnership.

SOMCO president and chief executive officer Ramon M. Borromeo signed the agreement with Paje, with Eduardo F. Nepomuceno, head of SOMCO’s Special Operations and Projects and External Affairs; Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel Cuna and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Rodrigo Cabrera as witnesses.

The agreement signing, held as one of the highlights in the recent celebration of World Water Day at the SM Mall of Asia In Pasay City, was in consonance with the DENR’s “Adopt-an-Estero-Program” which seeks to improve the environmental quality of rivers, creeks and other tributaries in the country through a public-private partnership platform.

“Most of the water bodies in Metro Manila can no longer be restored by government alone. To sustain our efforts, we need to work with the private sector, the local government and other stakeholders to address the huge volume of silt, wastes and other debris that have contlributed to the continuing degradation of our waterways. With SOMCO’s support and the active participation of the communities within the vicinity, we are assured of the sustainability of the clean up efforts, which the ultimate beneficiaries would be the next generations,” Paje stressed.

Under the MOA, SOMCO will undertake environmental improvement on a 2.6-kilometer stretch of Maricaban Creek traversing the cities of Taguig, Makati, Pasay and Parañaque. The company is also tasked to conduct dredging, information and education campaigns, community mobilization activities, and training programs for concerned stakeholders.

For its part, the DENR through its EMB-National Capital Region and the LLDA will intensify monitoring of industrial/commercial establishments, and undertake, among others, regular water quality monitoring. It will also provide the necessary technical assistance to concerned leaders and stakeholder groups in the area.

The concerned parties also agreed to determine the necessity of, and to the extent possible plan for, more dredging and desilting of the creek, introduction of interventions such as phyto-remediation thru constructed wetlands, planting of bamboo and other plant species along the river banks, rip-rapping or coco-matting, construction, and greening of linear parks.

Also present during the agreement signing were EMB Asst. Director Gilbert C. Gonzales, EMB-National Capital Region Director Roberto Sheen, DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Laureano B. Lingan, Jr., and Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Rodrigo E. Cabrera.

SOMCO is the 5th company within Metro Manila that signified its commitment to join the program. The first was Manila North Tollways Corporation for portions of the Tullahan River at Barangays Ugong in Valenzuela City and Talipapa in Quezon City; followed by the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association for Diliman Creek and its minor tributaries; San Miguel Corporation for portions of Tullahan River from MacArthur Highway all the way to Manila Bay; and AMKOR Technology Philippines Inc. for Palico Creek located at Brgys. Buli and Cupang in Muntinlupa City.