The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Eastern Visayas signed a Memorandum of Partnership Agreement (MOPA) with the City Government of Catbalogan and ninety-eight (98) other government, private and civil society organizations including the eighteen (18) barangays of Catbalogan City along the Antiao main river for the rehabilitation of the Antiao River in Catbalogan City.

Simultaneous with the MOPA signing was a river clean-up participated by representatives of the 98 partner organizations including barangay and city government officials and the DENR. Around two thousand (2,000) volunteers consisting of participants from partner agencies joined the river clean-up.

In her message, DENR 8 Regional Executive Director Lormelyn E. Claudio emphasized the need for the city to establish a functional Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in every barangay along the main river and also to put up a central material recovery facility for the collection and proper disposal of special hazardous wastes. She also called for the enforcement of legal easement pursuant to the Water Code of the Philippines in order to prevent further pollution of the river system.

“Our activity today is a remarkable event because it is not easy to involve 98 partner organizations for this undertaking.  Rehabilitation of the river or dealing with solid and hazardous wastes management is not only the responsibility of the DENR, LGU and the barangays but also of everyone,” says RED Claudio.

Stated in the MOPA was the commitment of the parties to develop a “Bring Back the Wow of Antiao River Rehabilitation Master Plan (ARRMP) anchored on Adopt-an-Estero Program of the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

A trust fund will also be created from contributions of partner organizations and other funding source for the rehabilitation of the river. The river clean-up conducted was also the first of the many clean-ups in the river, as a regular monthly clean-up will be conducted as part of the rehabilitation plan.

Per MOPA, the EMB will have to conduct a quarterly water sampling of the Antiao River to monitor the water quality of the river. It will also enforce environmental laws such as P.D. 1586, also known as Establishing an Environmental Impact Statement System, Including Other Environmental Mangement Related Measures and for other Purposes ; RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Act of 2000; RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004; RA 6969 or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 and other relevant laws, rules and regulations through inspection and compliance monitoring of industrial and commercial establishments and institutions.