Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has welcomed President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order transferring the chairmanship of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Cimatu said the presidential directive would help ensure timely and effective implementation of various initiatives geared towards the rehabilitation of the heavily polluted Manila Bay.

“We are thankful to the President for trusting us once again with the responsibility of cleaning up Pasig River. Indeed, this is timely for our goal in rehabilitating Manila Bay,” said Cimatu, who chairs the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) in charge of restoring the historic bay to its former glory.

Cimatu assured the President and the public that the DENR will do its best to rehabilitate Pasig River as part of its mandate to protect, conserve and sustainably manage the environment.

“We at the DENR would like to reassure our fellow Filipinos of our dedication and commitment in cleaning up Pasig River in line with our mandate as a government agency,” Cimatu said.

President Duterte recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 90 transferring the chairmanship of the PRRC to the DENR, citing the need for “close coordination and oversight” of cleanup efforts and rehabilitation of major waterways in Metro Manila, given that the DENR heads the MBTF.

With the transfer of the PRRC chairmanship to the DENR, Cimatu said the agency will be more effective in complying with the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“It will make cleaning the esteros along the river more effective, as there will be greater coordination among the key people involved,” Cimatu said.

Pasig River is the water body that connects Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, making it an important part of the rehabilitation of the historic bay.

The DENR aims to reduce the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay to 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml).

“Cleaning up the esteros and tributaries along Pasig River will help the DENR achieve these targets,” Cimatu pointed out.

Earlier, Cimatu said the government will target the source of water pollution in an effort to rehabilitate, restore and maintain the bay to a level fit for swimming, as mandated in the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008.

In that high court ruling, the DENR and 12 other government agencies were tasked to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay for the enjoyment of present and future generations.###