Duterte Abolished the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission
President Duterte has abolished the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), citing efforts to “right-size” the government. Last November 8, Duterte signed Executive Order 93, which formally erased the PRRC. By abolishing the PRRC and transferring its powers to the Manila Bay Task Force, the government can streamline its efforts in rehabilitating the Pasig River. It was only on November 12 when Duterte submitted a certified true copy of the executive order.
In September, Duterte fired PRRC executive director Jose Antonio Goitia for unproven allegations of corruption. After the axing, he declared that it would be impossible to rehabilitate the Pasig River because of the establishment of new factories and overpopulation.
Successes under the PRRC
In 1999, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada created the PRRC as the government agency to lead in the rehabilitation and transformation of the Pasig River and its environs. Estrada mandated the PRRC to restore the river’s water quality to Class C level, making it fit for fisheries, recreation such as boating, and manufacturing as a water source after being treated. For many years, the PRRC worked with NGOs to complement its funding and operational requirements. Among these NGOs is Gina Lopez’s ABS-CBN Foundation Inc., which launched the Kapit Bisig Para sa Pasig project. The project led to the successful rehabilitation of tributaries to the Pasig River such as the Estero de San Miguel behind Malacañang and six other tributaries around Metro Manila.
Challenges remained, such as having limited mandate over the Pasig River and having no budget to remove garbage in the river. The main job of the PRRC is to tell other government agencies to do their job concerning the river. The ill-funded PRRC became redundant because of this.
Government agencies such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Housing Authority (NHA), and various local governments in Metro Manila are already clearing waterways, doing flood prevention activities, clearing illegal structures on the riverbank, and relocating informal settlers on the Pasig River.