By Erma Edera
Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso assured on Saturday illegal settlers along Estero San Antonio Abad in Malate, Manila will be properly relocated as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) starts the rehabilitation of the polluted creek.
“Habang nililinis yung creek, may puso naman yung DENR sa mga kababayan nating mahihirap na mailagay sa ayos yung maapektuhang pamilya,” (While they are cleaning the creek, the DENR has a heart for the poor especially those families that will be affected by the rehabilitation)”, Domagoso said during the inspection of the creek.
The Mayor said that 50 of the illegal settler families removed from the estero will be relocated by the National Housing Authority in Tala, Caloocan City on June 26.
“Kung tatanungin nila ang payo ko, dakmain na nila itong pagkakataong ito. You will never know kung mayroon pang pamahalaan na talagang lilingunin ng may konting titig sa sitwasyon nila (If they will ask my advice, grab this chance. Because you will never know if there is a government that will take a look in their situation),” he said.
According to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, 20 out of 70 families are still living near the polluted creek.
Cimatu said their priority is to clean-up the creek because its trash and pollutants end up at the Manila Bay.
“Priority natin ang estero na ito na linisan dahil pumupunta ito directly sa Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.
The DENR chief said that they are planning to demolish fences near the creek to allow more space for garbage trucks and people.
“We will eventually demolish the fences para mag-comply sa batas which is 3 meters kung may space tayo na mapaglinisan,” Cimatu said.
“Ang problema dito kung hindi nakakapasok yung garbage truck dito sa esteros. You can just imagine kung hindi nakakapasok, itatapon na lang ang basura sa estero,” he said.
Cimatu said the coliform level of the Malate creek’s water decreased from 1.3 billion to 10 million.
Domagoso also vowed that the local government of Manila and DENR will be working hand in hand during its rehabilitation.
“‘Yung bagong pamahalaan makakaasa ang DENR na makiki-isa ang pamahaalaan na hindi kami magtatapon ng basura sa dagat,” he said.
Domagoso said they will meet with DENR staff at Manila City Hall on July 16 to plan for the cleanup of the Malate creek.