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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bay rehab to benefit from CSR

"The companies will pay for the cleanup of rivers."

 

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We’re glad that the private sector will soon actively join the campaign of the national government, led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to rehabilitate the nearly 2,000 square kilometer Manila Bay covering a number of cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and outlying provinces.

The country’s biggest shopping mall chain, SM, has already offered to adopt Parañaque River and take part in of its rehabilitation.

Beverage giant San Miguel Corp. for its part, would adopt the 15-kilometer long Tullahan River that passes through Quezon City, Valenzuela, Malabon and Navotas.

Business titan Lucio Tan has also offered to adopt a river in Navotas City. Marikina River would be adopted by Andrew Tan of Megaworld Corp.

This is corporate social responsibility at work as the companies will pay for the cleanup of rivers that have so much garbage that small boats can no longer use these. When these rivers overflow, Metro Manila streets become flooded.

We fully support the clean-up of Metro Manila rivers, including the esteros that discharge polluted water into the Pasig River and onward to Manila Bay.

In fact, the cleanup of Manila Bay was ordered by the Supreme Court way back in 2008. Since then, there’s been no coordinated move by the government, the private sector, civil society and ordinary citizens to undertake any serious effort to implement the court order.

Until now, that is. Work has begun to clear three drain channels that empty into Manila Bay. Business establishments that were found to have violated pollution control standards have already been ordered by the DENR to either put up their own sewage treatment plants or connect their discharge pipes to the main sewerage system or face permanent closure.

All rivers as well as esteros will have to be dredged and cleaned. Informal settlers living along the banks of rivers and esteros will have to be relocated, or if not, provided with adequate sewage system. A huge challenge for the government, the private sector and environmental NGOs, but one that has to be done if we want Metro Manila to remain livable in the years to come.

Urban decay

While at this, we must also focus attention on the sad state of Metro Manila cities.

The old business districts in Manila, for instance, have definitely seen better days, and urgently need redevelopment.

Many of the business establishments and residential areas in Quiapo, Sta. Cruz, Binondo and Divisoria are in a sad state of disrepair. If you happen to pass by Claro M. Recto Avenue or the former Azcarraga going to Divisoria, you would notice that most of the old buildings built even before World War II are still there but can use much-needed repair. And yes, a fresh coat of paint would definitely enhance the character of the area. The city government does not seem interested in asking property owners to improve the look of their buildings by spending for paint and brush.

The worst eyesore is the concrete building at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Recto that should already be demolished. I think that’s where Recto University thrives these days. Also located in the area is the overcrowded Old Bilibid Prison that should really be relocated elsewhere. The old cinema houses along Rizal Avenue with Art Deco architecture—Avenue, Dalisay, Odeon, Galaxy, Scala, Roxan, among others—are all gone. But I think State Theater near Carriedo is still there and should be preserved, even if only the facade will remain after redevelopment.

If Manila is a good example of a city gone to seed, you won’t find better proof than a quick drive through R-10 along the Port Area. That’s where urban poverty is at its most wretched, with residents left to their own devices by the government.

In Quezon City, the local government unit appears helpless in controlling the influx of informal settlers, as there are many shanties built near Morato Avenue, a major restaurant and entertainment hub.

Reader clarifies railway story

We received a mail from a Brad Peadon of the Philippine Railway Historical Society regarding our recent column on the hybrid train project of the Department of Science and Technology. Here’s his letter: 

“In response to your (and most other media outlets there) claim regarding the Philippines first locally built train.

“Unfortunately, this is not correct. It is the first hybrid train built locally, but it is far from the first trains built there.

“This claim would be held by railcars built prior to the war for the Manila Railroad, and the locally produced railcars of the former Panay Railway.

“For the sake of reporting correct Philippine history, I hope this correction can be made in the publication.

“Many thanks for your support of the railways there.”

We stand corrected. Thanks for your clarification, Mr. Peadon.

ernhil@yahoo.com

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