San Miguel Corp. to fund P1-B cleanup of Tullahan River
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Corp. (SMC) will voluntarily spend a billion pesos to clean up an often clogged waterway in the north of the Philippine capital that feeds into the heavily polluted Manila Bay as part of its environmental advocacy, the head of the country’s largest conglomerate said Monday.
According to SMC president Ramon Ang, the group has allocated P1 billion for an extensive rehabilitation of the Tullahan River system — a 59.24-kilometer tributary that starts from the La Mesa Reservoir and traverses the cities of Valenzuela and Malabon, before reaching the mouth of Manila Bay through Navotas City.
SMC and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday formalized a joint commitment to undertake the cleanup through the signing of an agreement that will involve massive dredging operations to increase the water flow of the river. This undertaking would be funded by SMC.
“We hope to inspire more companies to step up and actively participate in the government’s cleanup drive,” Ang said during the event. “The Tullahan River is crucial to bringing back the glory of the Manila Bay.”
“We are proud to partner with the DENR on this project,” he added. “In the last couple of months, we have seen what can be done when our government has both political will and a clear understanding of what can be done to make a difference.”
Ang cited the project as an example of environmental progress that the public and private sector can achieve together.
Under the five-year agreement, SMC will implement a dredging and clean-up plan provided by the DENR to reduce solid wastes and floating debris; lend equipment, manpower, and funding for equipment operations such as fuel and logistics costs; assist in the community mobilization activities of the DENR; install a trash trap, transfer dredged materials; and install signage in relation to the rehabilitation program.
SMC, which operates the country’s oldest brewery in Polo, Valenzuela, has for many decades been dredging the Tullahan River.
In the past, it also donated backhoes and a barge to local government units, among many other efforts. Its wastewater facilities in its plant also help ensure clean water makes it back to the river.
“Despite our best efforts to make the Tullahan a living, vital waterway, and even as we have managed to lessen the flooding during the rainy season by removing silt and garbage, the problem is too big,” Ang said.
“When you think of the Tullahan, you think of a dead river, an eyesore, and a health hazard,” he added. “But with the leadership and resolve of DENR secretary Roy Cimatu and President Duterte, we know all this will change, just like in Boracay and the Manila Bay.” /kga
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