Duterte says Pasig River 'already clean,' wants river rehab body abolished
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte thinks Congress should abolish the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), saying the famous river is already "clean" anyway.
"If Congress is listening, abolish niyo 'yan (abolish it). There is nothing to clean in the Pasig River. It is already clean," he said on Monday, October 28, at the oath-taking of new government officials in Malacañang.
But in his succeeding sentences, he appeared to say the opposite – that it is impossible to keep Metro Manila's famous river clean so it would be useless to pour funds into it.
"That is the state of the art ng Pasig, unless we require every building, not only along the river but everybody who has the waste going down in a sewage or sewerage, walang mangyari (nothing will happen)," said Duterte.
"We're wasting time, you're paying people for nothing. They cannot do anything," he added, saying the funds allocated for the PRRC are better spent on "rice and medicine."
But while Duterte's remarks were directed to Congress, the PRRC was actually created by an Estrada-time executive order which means, as President, Duterte can repeal the EO and thus abolish the PRRC even without the help of Congress. Duterte, in fact, amended the same EO through his EO 90 which makes the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the chairman of the PRRC.
In 2018, the PRRC was recognized for successful efforts to bring Pasig River back to life. The commission accepted the first Asia RiverPrize Award, handed by the International River Foundation (IRF).
The IRF lauded the PRRC for removing almost 22 million kilos of solid waste from the river from 1999 to 2017 and the relocation of over 18,000 families living along waterways.
Pasig River, once considered biologically-dead, was described as already "Instagram-worthy."
Last month, Duterte fired PRRC executive director Jose Goitia for allegedly spreading word that he would soon be appointed customs collector. Goitia denied this.
Last May, the Commission on Audit (COA) found that the PRRC reported low accomplishment rates in 2018 despite using up 96% of its budget.
PRRC spent P107.568 million out of the P111.078 million allotted for the clearing of 6 waterways. The projects, however, only posted an accomplishment rate of 1% to 27.65%. – Rappler.com