Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today expressed gratitude for the continuing assistance extended by various sectors in the rehabilitation of the country’s bodies of water, particularly rivers and creeks, under the agency’s “Adopt-an-Estero Program”.

“When I first thought of cleaning up our waterways, my immediate concern was funding. The DENR has very limited budget and task ahead is obviously gargantuan. So when President Aquino brought up the idea of public-private partnership as a mode to move this nation to greater heights, that gave me the idea of engaging other stakeholders, particularly the private sector, as part of their corporate social responsibility,” Paje said.

After forging the first memorandum of agreement with Manila Tollways Corporation and the local government units of Quezon City and Valenzuela City for the cleanup of Tullahan River in September last year, “the rest is history,” according to him.

To date, Paje said more than 230 agreements have already been signed nationwide, the latest of which was with Rohm and Haas Philippines, Inc., a leading chemical industry in the Philippines; the city government of Las Las Piñas; non-government organization Sagip Ilog Foundation; and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

The agreement calls for the improvement of the water quality and the environment of some 1.7-kilometer stretch of the Manarigo River, considered the densely populated portion of the Las Piñas River System.

Under the agreement, the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), will undertake measures to reduce pollution in the area to include provision for technical assistance the city government in establishing appropriate materials recovery facility/system in their barangays, conduct of environmental education and information activities in communities, leaders and stakeholders in the area, and the facilitation of action against violators of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Water Act.

Also under the agreement, Rohm and Haas shall provide the funding in the amount of PhP 1.4 million as donation to PBSP for the general implementation of project and shall participate in any volunteer works during the project.

The PBSP, on the other hand, shall facilitate information campaigns and community mobilization activities, including the training of community leaders in solid waste management; facilitate and monitor the construction of rip-raps and installation of water strainers; and assist Rohm & Haas in coordinating with the LGU, advocacy partners and concerned communities to ensure smooth flow of the project.

The agreement also provides that Sagip-Ilog Foundation shall have the following responsibilities: to act as resource persons for livelihood trainings to be conducted in the communities, to allow the community to utilize all available equipment relevant to the livelihood projects being implemented; to provide assistance to PBSP and community in the marketing of the products of livelihood projects being implemented under the project; provide assistance to PBSP during coordination meetings with barangays and communities covered by the project; and to assume full management of the facilities installed by the project upon their turnover to the organization, specifically the constructed waste and strainer and the 100-linear meter riprap.

The local government of Las Pinas City shall be responsible for the availability of garbage trucks and regular collection of segregated wastes in all barangays; to ensure that barangay captains shall implement effectively solid waste management in their areas of responsibility; ensure the active participation of homeowners’ associations and other community-based organizations in support for the project.