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Pasig River rehabilitation program feted in first Asia RiverPrize awards

The rehabilitation of one of Manila's busiest waterway, the Pasig River, has been recognized in the first Asia RiverPrize awards held in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday.

Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) executive director Jose Antonio E. Goitia announced on the agency's Facebook page.

In the first 2018 Asia Riverprize, the Pasig River group bested the efforts of China on the Yangtze River.

The Riverprize, which is given by the International River Foundation (IRF), is given in recognition of organizations that work on the rehabilitation of rivers and the implementation of a river basin management.

The rehabilitation of the Pasig River started in January 1999 with the creation of the PRRC, "to ensure that the Pasig River System is rehabilitated to its historically pristine condition conducive for the propagation of fishes and other aquatic resources, transport, recreation and tourism."

Composed of representatives from various government, non-government and private agencies, the Foundation cited commission's work in resettling 18,719 families living along the riverbanks to decent homes, dismantling 376 encroaching private structures, and the establishment of 37,471.68 linear meters of environmental preservation areas.

The PRRC also developed 17 of its 47 identified tributaries, diverted almost 22 million kilograms of solid waste, and transformed communities into environmentally- responsible citizens.

The IRF noted that Pasig River was declared biologically dead in the 1990s due to "persistent pollution caused by population growth and industrial development along its riverbanks."

The rehabilitation of the river, which connects Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, "resulted in significant water quality improvement, as well as the revitalization and development of the Pasig River system."

In a press statement, Goitia said, “One of the five critical criteria in the determination of the winner was leadership, which we attribute to the leadership of our beloved Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte. It was PRRD’s leadership that united both the public and private sectors into this shared mission of protecting the Pasig River and improving the lives of the communities around it with strong political will."

"This global recognition if for Pres. Duterte and every Filipino river warrior.  Ito na yung bunga ng ating puso para sa Ilog Pasig kaya ituluy-tuloy lang natin ang ating mga programa,” he added. — BAP, GMA News