Press Release
July 5, 2013

Drilon urges LGUs to follow works on Iloilo River

After being named as finalist in international award Drilon urges LGUs to follow works on Iloilo River

Following the selection of Iloilo River as one of four international finalists in the 2013 Thiess International Riverprize award, Sen. Franklin M. Drilon, who has been leading the river's clean-up and rehabilitation, urged all sectors to continuously work together in relocating families living along river banks and waterways.

Drilon said it is not only a flood control measure; but more importantly, it is a step towards making Philippine rivers clean again and becoming the anchors of economic development as what happened in the case of Iloilo River.

The Thiess International Riverprize award, sponsored by the Austrian government through the International River Foundation (IRF), is among the world's most prestigious environmental awards. The IRF named Iloilo River as a finalist along with Bolshaya River in Russia, Mara River in Kenya, Africa and the Murray Darling Basin in Australia.

"The redevelopment of polluted rivers would only become successful with the collaborative efforts among its stakeholders. I laud the Department of the Interior and Local Government Agency and the chief executives in Metro Manila for finally collaborating in order to relocate 100,000 families living along the river banks and waterways," said Drilon.

The government announced to relocate initial 4,000 families living along esteros in Metro Manila.

"This undertaking will not only help address perennial flooding in Metro Manila, but it will also make our rivers clean once more. The removal of all obstructions and impediments along rivers will restore the natural water flow and make the rivers source of economic growth," said Drilon.

Citing what they have done in Iloilo River as an example, Drilon said the collaborative efforts among government and its stakeholders made possible the relocation of about 1,000 families living along the danger zones of the river and its tributaries.

"The rehabilitation of the Iloilo River is motivated by our desire to alleviate the perennial flooding in Iloilo and to make the river the anchor of economic progress," said Drilon, as he encouraged all local government executives to replicate - and even surpass - what they have done in Iloilo River.

"We must not underestimate the benefits of a clean river could provide us: protection from calamities, food, jobs, and economic growth," emphasized Drilon.

"If we were able to do it in Iloilo, the government, with all its resources, is definitely more capable to clean our rivers and waterways," stressed Drilon.

Drilon leads the multi-agency Iloilo River Development Council, a consultative and coordinative body with primary goals of improving the river water quality and preserving its ecology while promoting sustainable development of the city.

The Iloilo River was in the deteriorating stage because of several factors including pollution, sedimentation, depletion of mangrove areas, and proliferation of manmade constrictions, among others.

Aside from the relocation project, Drilon also constructed an Esplanade along the river to boost tourism in the city and to increase environmental awareness among its residents. The Iloilo River Esplanade has 1.2 kilometer pathways stretched along the 22-kilometer Iloilo River and has viewing decks that would provide visitors the chance to better appreciate the beauty of the river.

Drilon also initiated the removal of 10 derelicts and 38 idle vessels which were blocking the river for about a decade; as well as the elimination of illegal fishpens and dikes at the river.

Also through the initiative of Drilon, the old Molo Slaughterhouse was closed and a modern was constructed away from the river, with the P40 million assistance from the Department of Agriculture.

The council likewise spearheaded numerous mangrove planting activities, regular clean-up drive, and inspection of the river.

"We still have a lot of work to do but the good thing is we're gaining grounds and people, including international environment observers, are seeing what we are capable of doing for our rivers," said Drilon.

"For a once-dead river to be named a finalist in an international environmental award sends a clear message: the redevelopment of rivers in the country is bound to be a success with the strong political will and cooperation among the people," stressed Drilon.

"I am seeing the cooperation from all stakeholders and this is crucial to the realization of our goals for the Iloilo River," he ended.

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