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Claim: Former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III did not rehabilitate the Pasig river.
The Facebook video making the claim shows Aquino’s inspection of P. Casal Bridge that crosses Estero de San Miguel, a waterway connected to the Pasig River. The clip was used to show that the late president did nothing but inspect the river.
Why we fact-checked this: As of writing, the video has over 6,500 reactions, 1,000 comments, and 345,000 views on Facebook.
The bottom line: The Pasig River rehabilitation was, and is, a continuous effort conducted by different administrations, including Aquino’s administration. Fact checks by Rappler, Agence France-Presse, VERA Files, and PhilStar have already debunked related claims.
The river was declared “biologically dead” in the 1990s. Rehabilitation efforts started as early as 1973 through presidential decrees 274 and 281 under Ferdinand E. Marcos’ term. In 1989, a joint partnership between Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s administration and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) created the Pasig River Rehabilitation Program. Danida worked closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct studies and implement programs to clean the river.
In 1999, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) was established through Executive Order No. 54. Rehabilitation efforts both by the public and private sectors continued.
A photo story by the Asian Development Bank documented improvements in the Pasig River in 2011 during Aquino III’s term. The Philippine Daily Inquirer also reported “gains” made in the rehabilitation of the river under the Aquino III administration in 2015 through the Kapit-Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) project.
On October 16, 2018, Pasig River was awarded the first Asia RiverPrize Award by the International River Foundation (IRF) under Duterte’s administration. The IRF recognized the successful efforts to revitalize the river. Claiming that the river was already clean, the Duterte administration abolished the PRRC in 2019 with its functions absorbed by other agencies.
Pasig River today: A 2021 report by Oxford University’s Our World in Data claimed that the Pasig River is responsible for 6.43% of the world’s ocean plastic originating from rivers. As of 2021, Pasig River was reported to be the top dumper of plastic waste in the ocean.
DENR recognized that more mitigation efforts are required to address pollution in the river, but reiterated that the river has significantly improved. DENR also pointed out that a probabilistic approach based on secondary data was used in the report. It did not reflect the actual condition of the river. – Pola Regalario/Rappler.com
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