WITH tons of garbage at the Prenza II Dam waiting to invade Marilao River, the most infamous river in the world might as well live up to its name. No thanks to the local governments of Marilao and Meycauayan City, tagged as two of the dirtiest places in the world.
“The stinking truth is that, the local governments, specially Marilao, have not been doing anything to save the river,” a barangay official who refused to be named told People’s Tonight. This writer tried but was unable to contact the chief executive of the town.
The source lamented that despite massive media attention and help from other government and non-government agencies, including environment watch dog Greenpeace, “garbage just continues popping in even in the slightest rain.”
“In these stances, the town seems to be helpless,” he said.
He blamed Mayor Epifanio Guillermo, who has constantly been blaming residents of Bagong Silang in nearby Caloocan City, for the problem.
“Ang problema kasi, laging ibinabato ni mayor ang sisi sa ibang tao, dapat kumilos na. Kung kinakailangang makipag-usap siya sa mga taga-ibang lugar, gawin na niya,” the source said.
Guillermo, the source said, has also been taking cudgels for the residents of Marilao, saying “they are disciplined and have a regular schedule of garbage collection. “
However, the mayor overlooked industries found along the river banks including tanneries, textiles, recycling of electronics for gold, silver and other precious metals recovery and refining, dumpsites and smelting plant.
“These firms,” the source said, “are owned by powerful people, who could be good contributors to campaign kitty during elections.
“Kapag wala na kasing camera tahimik na, pa-posing-posing na lang si mayor at saka niya sisisihin ang mga taga-Caloocan,” a resident said.
Marilao town and Meycauayan City gained global notoriety when it was named two of the filthiest places on earth and put the name of the Philippines as the dirtiest place in South East Asia by the Blacksmith institute, an environment group that monitors level of pollution around the world.
The group noted presence of heavy metals, chemicals and household and industrial wastes in the river system of Meycauayan, Marilao and Obando towns. With filths blocking the water system, tons of garbage settled at the bottom of the river, causing stench and grimes that literally killed the key waters in the province and put health condition of residents at risk.
There were incidents of deadly fumes invading houses dotting the river banks and sickening residents.
Actually, Marilao River is just one of the country’s 50 dead rivers. Like the Meycauayan River, it has been regularly monitored by the Environment Monitoring Board. The river has consistently shown excess levels of the dangerous heavy metals chromium, cadmium and lead. It has also recorded zero dissolve oxygen levels and high levels of organic pollution, a study which was confirmed by environment watchdog Greenpiece, who included the river in their own list of dirtiest places in the world.
The Department of Environment and some local government units launched a campaign to save the river following Environment Secretary Lito Atienza’s declaration that the river system is a water-quality management area. With the classification, an integrated action program to ensure rehabilitation of the water system is expected.
Atienza, who led the team of environment experts, inspected the team and agreed to work with local government units and other government agencies and private groups to restore the river system to its former glory.
The event was covered by major media networks and landed on prominent pages of newspapers and the six o’ clock news. Nothing was heard of the DENR after the launch.
“Kaso hanggang doon lang yata `yun, wala pang kongkretong hakbang na ginagawa ang national at local government para maaksiyunan ang problema. Kasi wala nang media coverage,” he said.
Residents said the river even became worse today as nobody takes serious effort to clean the area. They said local officials just go to the river for picture-taking and for media release.
They said there are some cause-oriented group who go to the river to conduct clean-up campaign, “pero hindi talaga kaya, kailangan ng planning. Sana gawin nila ito nang hindi kinakailangang ma-media pa. As for the residents, willing naman kaming tumulong.”
No effective measures have been undertaken to rehabilitate the river. Even the DENR has not indentified the sources of pollution, or disclosed the particulars of the scientific tests which will be conducted as part of the monitoring efforts.
Accordingly, a governing board will manage the water-quality management area and will be responsible for the formulation of the action plan, which will provide a focused intervention to address the problems.
“The local government seems to ignore it. Kung kailan lang nila maisipan na bisitahin ang ilog saka lang sila pupunta upang tingnan na ang tunay na kalagayan nito. Grabe talaga. Wala nga silang mga accomplishment, puro salita at pabango lang sa media,” a housewife from one of the barangays covered by the river said.
The MMO river system is 55 kilometers in length, traversing the cities of Caloocan, Velenzuela and Malabon in Metro Manila; San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and the towns of Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria.