Efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay and its tributaries received another much-needed boost after the Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) committed to clean up Manila’s filthiest esteros that flow into Pasig River and ultimately into Manila Bay.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently forged a five-year partnership deal with MPIC for the cleanup of 20 dirtiest esteros that drain into Pasig River, under the DENR’s Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body program.

The water bodies covered by the DENR-MPIC accord are Esteros de Vitas, San Lazaro, Kabulusan, Magdalena, Binondo, Dela Reina, Sampaloc, San Sebastian, San Miguel, Valencia, Uli-uli, Paco, Pandacan, Tanque, Balete, Provisor, Concordia, Sunog Apog, San Antonio Abad and Quiapo.

The partnership was sealed through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim.
According to Cimatu, the DENR-MPIC collaboration is a continuation of the battle cry for Pasig River: “rehabilitating a river, restoring life and reviving the pride.”

“Together, we will continue to clean every estero, assess their water quality and identify sources of pollution,” Cimatu said during the MOU signing held at the DENR central office in Quezon City.
“We will take appropriate actions against establishments discharging untreated wastewater to prevent them from further poisoning these waterways,” he added.

For his part, Lim assured that the MPIC—through its subsidiary Maynilad Water Services Inc.—“remains fully committed to protecting the environment.”
“Upon acknowledging the objective of the DENR to promote stewardship among the private sector, MPIC is set to assist government agencies in improving the water quality parameters of the country’s water bodies,” Lim added.

Under the MOU, the MPIC agreed not only to fund the rehabilitation and water quality assessment of the adopted esteros, but also spearhead the mobilization of neighboring schools and communities for the cleanup activities.

The diversified conglomerate also assured that Maynilad will fast-track the rehabilitation of its sewer lines, intensify the connection of domestic and non-domestic customers to the existing sewerage network, install collector pipes and easements, and conduct information and education campaigns related to proper wastewater treatment and disposal.

The DENR, on the other hand, will provide the MPIC with all the relevant data for the conduct of the water quality assessment study, issue the necessary permits and approvals to enable the MPIC and Maynilad to perform their responsibilities, and take appropriate action against violators within the adopted esteros.

Established in 2010, the Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body is a flagship program of the DENR in response to the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for all concerned agencies to clean up Manila Bay, including all waterways that drain into it.

The program, which was eventually replicated in other parts of the country, is a collaborative undertaking among the estero community, the donor-partner, concerned local government units, the DENR and other government agencies. ###