MANILA -- Hundreds of volunteers from various sectors launched Sunday a cleanup of 9 rivers and dozens of inlets in Metro Manila.
Among the initial tally of 1,500 volunteers were government workers and firemen, said the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).
The cleanup will first focus on the collection of trash and reducing the coliform level later on, said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
"Habang pumupunta kami sa esteros, maraming hidden problems ang lumalabas. We will implement properly the Ecological Waste Management Act," he told reporters at Estero de Magdalena in the capital's Tondo district.
(As we visit various canals, many hidden problems surface.)
He also inspected the Tripa De Galinna creek linked to the Parañaque River, where he was joined by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo Lim.
Año reiterated his order to the officials of 5,700 barangays in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon to mount weekly cleanups of waterways in their areas, as part of the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, which started last Jan. 27.
Some 1.2 million kilos of garbage have been recovered in the past 3 weeks in Metro Manila alone, he said.
Officials neglecting the weekly cleanups could face sanctions for dereliction of duty, Año said.
The Estero De Magdalena's cleanliness has improved since last year, said Barangay 259 Chairperson Abigail Ibay, but she alleged that officials in other villages covering the creek were not reprimanding residents for littering.
"Dapat maisip nila na national problem ito, bayanihan ang kailangan," Año said of Ibay's observation.
(They should realize that this is a national problem. We need bayanihan.)
Some 11,000 families living near waterways were being considered for resettlement in Cavite and Bulacan, he said.