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MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino administration is committing P10 billion a year to fund efforts to clean up the Pasig River, according to the head of the body tasked to oversee the project.
“The local and national government set aside P10 billion a year. That’s why it’s good because they’re putting money there,” Regina Paz L. Lopez, chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) told reporters on the sidelines of a forum organized by the Asian Development Bank on Tuesday.
A cleanup of Pasig River – including all the canals leading to it – is possible in six to seven years provided the national government and local government units (LGUs) that straddle the river, or whose waterways end up there cooperate, Lopez said.
“If everyone works together, six to seven years. You do a little and then when people see the benefits then it will bankroll. If you see Estero de Paco, it’s doing well,” she said.
Citing a study done by PRRC, Lopez said the benefits from the rehabilitation of Estero de Paco could reach up to P23.94 billion in the next 20 years, with the LGU gaining P1.36 billion in taxes. She said land values along the estero could rise to P22.45 billion in the next 20 years.
The Lopez group’s first showcase property development under Rockwell Land is a stone’s throw away from the Makati stretch of the Pasig River. A second major project in Pasig, the Grove, is beside the Marikina River.
Lopez said the cleanup of six canals in Manila is underway at a cost of P173.26 million. These include Estero de Aviles, Estero de Uli-Uli, Estero de Quiapo, Estero de San Sebastian, Estero de Sampaloc, and Estero de Valencia.
Five canals in Tondo, as well as the Guadalupe Nuevo Creek and Balisampan Creek are scheduled for cleanup in 2013.
Estero de San Francisco, Estero de Culiat and Pateros-Taguig River would be rehabilitated in 2015, while the Maytunas Creek and Ermitanyo Creek are scheduled on 2016.
Then President Fidel V. Ramos established the PRRC to restore the Pasig River to class C – which means it could sustain life – by 2014. The river has been diagnosed as biologically dead.