Gov’t puts trash traps, warns ‘esteroristas’ in Pasig River

Ralf Rivas
Gov’t puts trash traps, warns ‘esteroristas’ in Pasig River
The problem begins in waterways such as the San Juan River, now the most polluted in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines – To stop trash from flowing into the Pasig River, a government agency placed “trash traps” in areas traversed by this body of water, as it threatened to impose sanctions against “esteroristas.”

The trash traps, or nets, were installed in parts of the San Juan River, and along the boundaries of Mandaluyong City, Manila, and Quezon City. Volunteers were assigned to collect the garbage caught by these trash traps. 

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) said it will monitor the amount of trash collected by the nets to determine the source of most of the garbage. 

The PRRC then vowed to crack down on “esteroristas,” or the “terrorists” of “esteros” (waterways).

The commission said “esteroristas” found guilty of polluting the Pasig River will face still-undisclosed sanctions. 

“We have already sent memos to individuals and companies. We will release the names soon,” said Jose Goitia, executive director of the PRRC.

Goitia also appealed to Metro Manila residents to dispose of garbage properly. Otherwise, he said the PRRC’s efforts will be put to waste. 

SEA OF TRASH. Volunteers collect garbage in the San Juan River. Photo courtesy of PRRC

Most polluted waterway: San Juan River

Gotia said the Pasig River, after all, “is alive again,” after it “was considered biologically dead” in the 1990s.

More than 63,700 tons of plastic – equivalent to more than 10,600 elephants in terms of weight – flow from the Pasig River into the ocean every year, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. 

The problem begins in waterways such as the San Juan River.

In April alone, almost 8,000 sacks of trash weighing around 4,000 kilos were collected in the San Juan River, according to the PRRC.

The San Juan River is now considered the most polluted waterway in Metro Manila.

Garbage threatens the government’s big plans for the Pasig River, including an improved ferry system by 2022 that would decongest Metro Manila traffic. 

Maawa naman kayo sa ilog, pati sa mga naglilinis kasi nasasayang ‘yung effort nila. (Please take pity of the river and the ones cleaning it up because all their efforts are put to waste). A little rain and all the trash is back again,” Goitia said. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.