The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has commended the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) for surpassing its targets in cleaning and dredging the 36.4-kilometer Tullahan-Tinejeros River System, which is one of the 17 principal river systems draining into Manila Bay.

“Despite the setback brought about by the pandemic, SMC has proven its dedication in protecting and preserving our environment. We are very grateful for our partnership in securing healthier and cleaner waterways for a better future,” said DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna.

The partnership between DENR and SMC is part of the Adopt-an-Estero Program – one of the department’s priority initiatives and key strategies to comply with the continuing Supreme Court mandamus to clean up Manila Bay.

Former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and SMC president and CEO Ramon S. Ang led the signing of the memorandum of agreement on March 14, 2019.

As part of its commitment, SMC pledged P1 billion for the dredging and clean-up activities in the Tullahan-Tinajeros River System, starting from La Mesa Dam in Quezon City and into Manila Bay at Centennial Park in Navotas City.

As of March 10, SMC reported it has finished dredging the portion of the river at Niugan, Malabon City using backhoes and recovered 93,393 cubic meters of dredged materials.

Meanwhile, it continued to conduct dredging operations in some portions of Catmon and Maysilo in Malabon City.

Since starting the project on October 12, 2021, SMC has dredged 155,113 cubic meters in the area and targets to finish the activity by the third week of March 2022.

It had also extended and prioritized the dredging of Sectors 3 and 4 – from Lambingan Bridge to Tinajeros Bridge Catmon/Maysilo in Malabon and from Tinajeros Bridge to Tullahan Bridge Tinajeros, Potrero and Marulas, respectively – to address flooding in these areas during the rainy season.

It has currently dredged 789,951 cubic meters and covered 7.71 kilometers of the river from Sector 1 (Manila Bay to Tonsuya Bridge Bangulasi, Tañong, Longos) to Sector 5 (Tullahan Bridge to NLEX Potrero, Marulas, Gen. T. de Leon).

Sampulna underscored the importance of dredging these areas to improve the quality of water.

“Dredging these areas, which are located close to urban areas and industrial complexes, could help prevent the accumulation of pollutants such as trash, debris, decaying vegetation, and even unwarranted toxic material spills,” Sampulna said.

Aside from dredging, SMC has initiated clean-up drives to remove accumulated wastes in the Tullahan River, which is considered the country’s dirtiest waterway emptying into the Manila Bay.

As of November 2021, SMC reported extracting 2,500 metric tons of waste daily for a total of 522,498 metric tons of collected waste.

Moreover, part of the river rehabilitation is the removal of residential and commercial structures within the three-meter no-build zone area and relocation of about 13,417 informal settler families (ISF).

The local government of Malabon has already submitted to the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor a certification letter for the relocation of ISFs in Potrero. ###