Duterte abolishes Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission months after saying water was ‘uncleanable’

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), a government agency mandated with cleaning up the notoriously dirty body of water, has been abolished on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to an announcement released today by Malacañang Palace.

Executive Order 93, which was signed by Duterte on Nov. 8, ordered the “disestablishment” of the PRRC. It also called for the transfer of its responsibilities to other government agencies, such as the Manila Bay Task Force, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

“[T]here is a need to consolidate ongoing rehabilitation efforts in all river systems and tributaries within the Manila Bay Region and streamline rehabilitation functions by transferring them to agencies with relevant core mandates,” the order said.

Duterte’s decision to abolish the PRRC comes two months after he insinuated that the Pasig River was officially un-fixable.

“Over the years, the waste of factories and houses all go into the Pasig River. How can you clean that?” he asked during a speech at Malacañang Palace.

On top of that, he also fired PRRC head Jose Antonio Goitia, though he didn’t explain why beyond threatening to throw the official into the Pasig River, Rappler reported.

Read: BIG FISH: Giant tilapia caught in Manila’s Estero de San Miguel

But despite Duterte’s skepticism that the Pasig River could be saved, signs of life have cropped up there in recent months. For instance, a giant tilapia was seen swimming in one of its estuaries in July. In 2018, the PRRC was even given the Asia River Prize Award by the International River Foundation for its cleanup of the river.

In a statement released today, the PRRC said it would abide by Duterte’s order, and that they “remain hopeful that the mandated agencies will continue the legacy of the Commission and the predecessors of the Pasig River rehabilitation program.”

The PRRC announced its closure by posting a stylized “20 Years” featuring its seal and the years “1999-2019,” along with a caption that simply said, “Thank you.”

Netizens, meanwhile, expressed sadness today at the PRRC’s closure, such as Tristan Mapanao, who thanked them for their service. “Do not delete this page. Duterte is leaving in 2 years. Who knows? Maybe the next president will be an earth warrior.”

Photo: PRRC/FB

The PRRC was established in 1999 during the administration of then-President Joseph Estrada. It was once chaired by staunch environmentalist Gina Lopez, who passed away in August.


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