DAGUPAN CITY – Inspired by the works of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission on the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez is set to form a similar commission that will oversee the full realization of her project “Sa Ilog Ko, May Pagbabago”.
The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) with Executive Director Ramil R. Tan conducted a river reconnaissance survey on December 20 along the rivers of Pugaro, Salapingao, Lomboy, Calmay, Carael, Tanap and Dawel to help the city realize its goal of duplicating the good works they had accomplished in rehabilitating the Pasig River.
“In our “Sa Ilog Ko, May Pagbabago” project, we have already cleared our rivers from the 690 illegal structures and we want to know from them what to do next. Nakita ko yung program ng PRRC na napakaganda at organized through the power of convergence,” said Fernandez.
She underscored that she has actually started doing this (power convergence) with other government agencies but added that there’s still a need to work more for the rivers and the esteros in the city.
At her own initiative, Fernandez was able to secure livelihood assistance from the Department of Agriculture for displaced illegal fishpen caretakers that provided them fishing paraphernalia like boats and fishing nets.
She was also able to work for the dredging of the city’s main rivers through the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Mayor Fernandez also worked for the establishment of the Island Tour with different private entities that donated three flat boats for local and foreign tourists to ride on along the Calmay and Pantal rivers.
The city is now working on constructing 400 housing units in Bonuan Boquig in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for residents living along the areas which are considered as the most vulnerable to flood and tsunami.
“Relocation of informal settlers, however, is done voluntarily because we have to consider the availability first of a resettlement site and their livelihood as well as the tourism aspects of the program,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez disclosed that the city has around 1,000 to 2,000 informal settlers living along the river banks and esteros at present.
“What we want to learn now is on how to sustain our project. I admire Secretary Gina Lopez, who started the PRRC for what she had done with this program. I saw her passion, which we need in our city and the power of convergence which involves the government and the members of the community,” said Fernandez.
As an initial step, Tan recommended for the construction of a walkway or an environmental preservation area along both banks of the Pantal River and the formation of a cooperative-type of livelihood for informal settlers.
Tan admired the beauty of the city’s river system and its potential.
“You have a beautiful river which is better than Loboc of Bohol,” said Tan. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/Dec. 21, 2016)