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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Rehabilitation of River System Pushed

MARILAO, BULACAN – Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee
on climate change, today held a public hearing on the clean-up of the
Marilao-Meycauayan-ObandO river system to prevent floodings during a
repeat of typhoons like Ondoy and Pepeng.

During the hearing, Senator Legarda prodded representatives of the
national and local governments to adopt community-based programs for
the prevention of floods and the mitigation of risks from disasters.

She also instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways to
immediately rehabilitate the infrastructures destroyed by the typhoons
to provide smooth transportation networks for the prompt
rehabilitation of the flood victims.

Loren told representatives of the Department of Health to help
communities clean up their surroundings to prevent diseases and
provide medicines and medical assistance to those afflicted by
ailments caused by the floods.  She also asked them to conduct a
health survey among the flood victims.

Loren also urged the representatives of the Department of Agriculture
to adopt measures to protect farmers from future disasters.  She also
asked them to supply farmers with new seeds and other inputs to be
able to rehabilitate their crops destroyed by the typhoons.

From the Department of Social Welfare and Development, she asked for
programs for the resettlement of those displaced by the storms, to set
up livelihood projects and to intensify poverty alleviation efforts.

Loren also asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
to eliminate pollution in the river system and take steps to improve
its natural environment.

To local officials, she suggested that they adopt disaster
preparedness programs to reduce damage from future disasters, and to
conduct recovery and rehabilitation efforts in coordination with
national government agencies.

The Marilao – Meycauayan – Obando River System river system is 55
kilometers in length, traversing the cities of Caloocan, Valenzuela
and Malabon in Metro Manila; San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and the
towns of Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria. It has also been
identified as one of the country's 50 endangered rivers due to heavy

The Blacksmith Institute in the US named Meycauayan City and Marilao
town in Bulacan as two of the world's "worst polluted places'' in
2007, saying that the river system was extremely polluted. In its
report, the institute said: "Industrial waste is haphazardly dumped
into the Marilao, Meycauayan, and Obando River system, a source of
drinking and agricultural water supplies for the 250,000 people living
in and around" the Meycauayan-Marilao area.

According to a Greenpeace study, much of the pollution comes from
tanneries, textiles and electronics recycling industries operating
near the river. High levels of lead were found in the effluent samples
taken from the discharge canal of the Philippine Recyclers Inc., a
large smelting plant that operates on the bank of the river.  It also
found other toxic chemicals such as hexavalent chromium (which is a
carcinogen), cadmium, copper and arsenic from the effluents released
by the other plants.

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