ILOILO CITY -- Taking a cue from the successful rehabilitation program of Boracay Island, Iloilo City will also embark on a cleanup drive with the goal of making its coastal areas again safe for swimming.
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III, in an interview Monday, said a task force that will be chaired by personnel of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) will be created to look into the overall implementation of the community-driven effort for the “wheels of development to start.”
“If the government can do it on Boracay and Manila Bay, then how come we could not do it here?” Espinosa said.
He added that the initiative has to be coordinated with the public and private sectors, barangays will be involved, and communities will be partners in the cleanup.
CENRO head, Noel Hechanova, in an interview Tuesday, said he has recommended to the mayor the creation of a task force although they already have an existing Coastal Resource Management Program.
Due to limited resources, what they can work for now is to raise public awareness. Next is to gather stakeholders and restaurant owners to undertake the cleanup, he added.
He cited that the Iloilo River Development Project began with just a little cleanup. Currently, projects are sprouting as a result of the successful implementation of the project.
“If we start with a coastal cleanup, we hope that someday more stakeholders would join us in restoring our coastal areas,” he said.
By embarking on the cleanup, he said they look forward to “change the values of people in coastal areas about polluting the coastal waters.”
The coastal area covers 26 barangays from Sto. Niño, Arevalo to Jaro district. As early as 2005, the coliform level of the waters along the stretch already reached up to millions.
“For many years, I was trying to come up with a physico-chemical survey to determine the water quality of the coastal areas. DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) has a study of the Guimaras Strait; its indicators could probably tell something about the quality of water,” he added.
However, he was quick to point out that the solid waste is only the tip of the iceberg and the “main culprit is the wastewater that comes from septic tank.”
“Solid waste contributes around 10 -15 percent in the pollution load, the rest is generated by wastewater,” he said.
He added that coming up with a communal toilet could also be a good move but he revealed that only 8 percent to 10 percent of the households have no toilets.
"What we need is the septic tank, which must be cleaned regularly as stipulated in the Iloilo City Septage Ordinance. Through this, probably the coliform level at the Iloilo River and coastal areas will be reduced," he remarked.
“What is important is for us to first have a get-together and later sit down formally to talk about what we can do,” he said.
In the meantime, Liga ng mga Barangay President Ma. Irene Ong said that barangays will support the drive of the city government.
“When it comes to cleanup, our barangay captains are very cooperative. They have been doing that,” Ong said. (PNA)
Photo by Kara Santos/ABS-CBN News