SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union - β€˜Not even the pandemic can stop the initiatives for the Naguilian River System, this is the strong message with the character and spirit which surfaced in the collaborative efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Ilocos Region thru the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) -La Union, Provincial Government of La Union and the Local Government of Naguilian in their sustainable efforts for this water body, which brought them the fame of bagging the 1st Place in the recently conducted Search for the Best R.I.V.E.Rs for Life Award or Recognizing Individuals/Institutions towards Vibrant and Enhanced Rivers with a rating of 93%.

Through Resolution No.1 series of 2020 by the National Committee on R.I.V.E.Rs for Life Awards of the DENR declaring the winners in the most coveted nationwide contest, Naguilian River System came out with a well-built mechanism to outdo and prevailed over the 15 other regions which also tried to grab the award. 16 entries were reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria: (a) Aesthetics and Water Quality Improvement – 35%; (b) Solid Waste Management – 25%; Partnership/community Mobilization – 25%; and (d) Information and Education Campaign - 15%.

The officialdom of the DENR in Region 1 headed by Regional Executive Director Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo expressed his gratitude to everyone who worked for the achievement of this award which he considers as another feat attributed to the team and collaborative efforts of the regional office and its field offices. Atty. Barcelo also underscored that β€œthis is another manifestation of an unselfish leadership giving the full trust and confidence to the people you lead and guiding them to maximize their potential in attaining this achievement.”

The R.I.V.E.Rs for Life Award was launched and initiated by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu which aims to: (1) raise awareness on the need to protect and conserve the country’s rivers as the lifeblood of the Earth and human civilization; (2) tap concerted action to protect the country’s rivers from degradation and pollution and assure their suitability, sustainability and further improvement for their designated use or classification; (3) come up with appropriate mitigation measures and interventions to help address the continued worsening condition of river systems in the country; and (4) recognize CENRO’s and PENROs that have responsibly implemented DENR policies, programs, project and activities and have enforced ENR laws and regulations in their area of responsibility. This competition likewise addresses the concern on solid waste management and clean water which are among the ten (10) major programs of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

RED Barcelo also added that β€œrivers are essential for human and nature to survive so it is our duty to ensure that these bodies of water are not exploited to secure livelihood and the wide-range of benefits that people derive from them.”

The top 3 entries are: (1) Naguilian River of PENRO-La Union in Region 1 – 93%; (2) Bued River of PENRO – Benguet in Cordillera Administrative Region - 91.75%; and (3) Naga River of PENRO-Camarines Sur in Region V – 86.25% and same be awarded as the First Place, Second Place, and Third Place respectively. (RSCIG)