After their collaboration in Boracay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is once again partnering with the Aboitiz Group, this time for the rehabilitation of San Juan River, one of Metro Manila’s main river systems and a major tributary of Pasig River.

San Juan River, which runs from Quezon City to the cities of San Juan, Mandaluyong and Manila, is considered as one of the most polluted waterways in the metropolis.

The DENR, represented by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEVI) and the Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (AFI) for the development and implementation of the San Juan River Rehabilitation Plan.

The MOA aims to lower the pollution levels in San Juan River, which ultimately drains into the Manila Bay, through dredging and cleanup activities.

“Today, we take a solid and resolute step towards winning the Battle for Manila Bay with the signing of a [MOA] among the DENR, Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Aboitiz Foundation for the sustainable clean up and rehabilitation of San Juan River,” Cimatu said during the MOA signing held at the DENR central office in Quezon City on August 16.

Aside from Cimatu, other signatories in the MOA are AEVI president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz and AFI trustee Sabin Aboitiz.

The MOA signing took place a year after the DENR and the Aboitiz Group teamed up for the rehabilitation and development of the one-hectare Wetland 4 in Boracay, transforming it into a linear urban park for a period of three years.

“Let us applaud the DENR-Aboitiz Group partnership and hold it aloft as a model for more partnerships to follow,” Cimatu said.

He pointed out that the DENR could not accomplish the mission of rehabilitating Boracay and Manila Bay “by itself” that’s why it “took the initiative of reaching out to existing and potential partners.”

The rehabilitation of the 11-kilometer San Juan River will run for three years and renewable for another year. It will be implemented by AFI, the social development arm of the Aboitiz Group.

The rehabilitation plan would have at least three components: social preparation and mobilization involving concerned local government units; dredging and cleanup; and regular water quality monitoring activities on selected points of the river identified by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau.

Under the agreement, the AEVI pledges to fund the rehabilitation and cleanup of the river and provide the needed equipment and materials needed for the undertaking.

For his part, Sabin Aboitiz said the Aboitiz Group was honored to be entrusted with the San Juan River.

He said the latest DENR-Aboitiz Group partnership “is the benchmark program that can be replicated for other tributaries of Manila Bay.”

“There is no doubt that Manila Bay is a symbol of our country with its world-famous sunset and we congratulate the implementing agencies on carrying out this directive of the President,” he added.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had entrusted Cimatu to lead the rehabilitation efforts both in Boracay and Manila Bay. #