Duterte abolishes Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission

Sofia Tomacruz
Duterte abolishes Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission
Just a few days ago, President Duterte says the famous river is already 'clean'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte abolished the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) days after he claimed there was no longer any need for it, saying the famous river was already “clean.

Duterte made the remark official when he issued Executive Order 93 last November 8. In a copy of the order given to media on Wednesday night, November 13, Duterte ordered the “disestablishment” of the PPRC established during the administration of former President Jospeh “Erap” Estrada.

The 20-year-old commission was tasked to ensure the rehabilitation of Pasig River to its “historically pristine condition conducive to transport, recreation, and tourism.”

Following EO 93, the following agencies will instead handle tasks and powers which were delegated to the PRRC:

  • Manila Bay Task Force – Take the lead in “overall implementation” of the Pasig River rehabilitation masterplan;
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Enforce easements provided for in the Civil Code and other laws “especially in all the esteros and waterways that drain into the Pasig River.” The department will also be in charge of preventing the dumping of untreated industrial waste and sewerage into the river;
  • Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development – Expedite the relocation of informal settlers along Pasig River. The agency will also be responsible for the enforcement of Proclamation 704 of former President Fidel Ramos, which provides housing for relocated settlers from Pasig River;
  • Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Department of Public Works and Highways – Oversee the dismantling and removal of all “structures, construction, and other encroachments” built along Pasig River. The agencies were also tasked to complete necessary civil works such as the dredging and cleaning of the river and waterways that drain into it, among others.

EO 93 orders the Department of Budget and Management, along with the DENR and MMDA to oversee “winding up” operations of the PRRC which include the transfer of its functions to concerned agencies listed above.

Prior to the President’s decision to abolish the PRRC, Duterte fired PRRC executive director Jose Goitia for allegedly spreading word that he would soon be appointed customs collector. Goitia denied this.

Last May, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the PRRC reported low accomplishment rates in 2018 despite using up 96% of its budget.

PRRC spent P107.568 million out of the P111.078 million allotted for the clearing of 6 waterways. The projects, however, only posted an accomplishment rate of 1% to 27.65%.

Earlier in 2018, the PRRC was also recognized for successful efforts to bring Pasig River back to life. The commission accepted the first Asia RiverPrize Award, handed by the International River Foundation.

Meanwhile, in a statement Thursday, the PRRC said it “respects the decision of the Palace on the disestablishment of the Commission.”  – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.