There was indeed hope for the Butuanon River to be rehabilitated after environmentalist and former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez assessed the river’s current situation in a visit yesterday in Mandaue City.
Various stakeholders from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7), Department of Agriculture (DA-7), the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), DA Provincial Office, Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) with Councilor Joel Garganera and Lopez gathered in Mandaue City’s Session Hall yesterday for the “Save the Butuanon River” meeting.
MCCI President Glenn Soco said Lopez earlier mentioned during their meeting in Kinatarcan Island in the municipality of Bantayan when she was still secretary that she was willing to help rehabilitate the Butuanon River.
The organizing committee of the Butuanon River rehabilitation briefed Lopez about Mandaue City’s rehabilitation plan in a PowerPoint presentation.
The rehab plan includes putting parks, commercial strip and mid-rise housing near the river. The committee is currently in control of the water quality disposed of by industrial and commercial establishments including domestic wastes.
The Mandaue Cenro has already started meeting the identified 62 establishments in the Mandaue side of the river to discuss about their waste disposal activity. They were also coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways for the flood control and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which promised to help prevent the slope of the river.
Another concern was the siltation that made the river shallower, which was allegedly caused by the rapid development in the upstream or in the mountain barangays of Cebu City.
Lopez, in her PowerPoint presentation, also showed her projects in the rehabilitation of Pasig River, which is bigger and longer with 48 esteros habituated by thousands of informal settlers.
In her presentation, the esteros covered with garbage were transformed into small parks with ornamental plants. “People just need to love the river and not make it a dumping area,” said Lopez. Lopez believed this can also be done for Butuanon River.
Mandaue City Councilor Carmelino Del Mar later brought the group to a newly developed park in Butuanon River that is taken care of by Barangay Ibabao-Estancia with trees on the riverbanks to prevent soil erosion and mitigate flooding.
Lopez also suggested to the organizing committee that they should create a “River Warriors” team like what they have in Manila to help monitor the cleanliness of the river and apprehend violators of environmental laws.
Lopez was later brought to a 6.5-hectare relocation site in Barangay Paknaan, where the former secretary suggested to have it adorned with plants, and allocate space for playground, a covered court and other facilities.