Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) chairperson Roy A. Cimatu said that with the completion of the first phase of dredging operations in Marikina City, the TF BBB is now ready to commence the second phase of the project in Pasig City.

“The challenge is to double the effort in Phase 2 of the project, involving the downstream portion of Marikina River in Pasig City, given the bigger area that needs to be cleared of debris and other obstruction,” the DENR chief pointed out.

"Maluwag na nga dito sa Marikina, pero pagdating sa baba, kumikipot ito up to 45 meters which is why the challenge is to continue dredging downstream," Cimatu said, noting the target is to have Phase 2 completed within the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Phase 2 of the project covers the clearing of untitled and reclaimed areas in Barangay Santolan in Pasig City covering 12,830 square meters.

The TF BBB is also studying the inclusion of another 34,560 square meters covering the stretch from Ortigas Avenue to Bridgetowne in Barangay Rosario (26,417 square meters) and Barangay Ugong (8,143 square meters).

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary for Regional Operations in Visayas, NCR and Region IV-B Roberto Bernardo said all its fleet of equipment and human power deployed for Phase 1 will be also be deployed for Phase 2 including an additional brand-new amphibious excavator, which is due for procurement and delivery in August and deployment for Phase 2 either in September or October.

For Phase 1, the DPWH deployed 17 pieces of equipment consisting of one amphibious excavator, one loader, two backhoes, one boom truck, and 12 dump trucks.

Bernardo added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed a backhoe and loader, including five dump trucks, and seven operators-drivers to help in the dredging efforts.

The first phase of the Marikina River restoration and dredging project in Marikina City included the removal of chokepoints at the Olandes Sewage Treatment Plant, BF City, Riverbanks, and SM Marikina.

The DPWH reported that a total of 67,425 cubic meters — equivalent to 27 Olympic-size swimming pools — have been dredged from three sites covering a total of 6,936 square meters.

It also recovered some 20 to 30 meters of the river’s width, resulting in its widening from 70 meters up to 90-100 meters and an additional depth of two meters.

Cimatu also noted that through the DENR’s riverbank stabilization and watershed restoration efforts within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), at least 16,728 bamboo trees have been raised, planted, and maintained in river easements covering 82 hectares. This was done with the 11 peoples’ organizations composed of cultural communities located inside UMRBPL

Ninety (90) units of check dams designed to reduce riverbank erosion have been desilted while a total of 1,750 meters along tributaries were likewise planted with 8,552 fruit-bearing trees and bamboo culms along tributaries of the Marikina River.

Meanwhile, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro vowed to preserve the gains from the project through the maintenance of the river’s width and the establishment of a bamboo tree nursery for the propagation and planting of different species of bamboo along the river as part of the city government's river restoration program.

He also disclosed that Marikina City is now working to have untitled lands along the riverbanks classified as flood-prone areas to prevent encroachments and keep them as natural pathways of floodwaters.

The DENR, through its Land Management Bureau, has initially identified four untitled areas along the riverbank covering 3,762 square meters. ###