ILOILO City – Environment secretary Roy Cimatu envisions Malandog River as center of tourism in the province of Antique.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the Malandog River Task Force, Cimatu urged local government units in Antique to clean the river of silt, debris and illegal settlers.
“Unless and until we clean it up, we will not be able to attain the standard coliform level in the water that is ideal for Malandog River,” said Cimatu.
Malandog River can be rightly called one of the country’s ancient ports. According to tradition, strangers from Borneo landed their sails there and the natives called Ati welcomed them, resulting to what is now known as the “Barter of Panay” and sealed the pact between the Malay chieftains and the Ati tribe of Antique (formerly called Hantik) province.
The Atis were said to have retreated to the mountains while the new settlers lived in the lowlands and from there made settlements in various parts of Panay Island.
Thus, Malandog River became, in essence, the cradle of Panay civilization. This historical significance is commemorated by Antiqueños during the Binirayan Festival held annually.
Cimatu recently ordered all regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to monitor water quality of rivers nationwide.
Throughout the centuries, the once pristine Malandog River in Hamtik town has deteriorated due to polluted effluents from households and industries that surround it.
DENR Region 6 has earmarked P40 million for the rehabilitation and development of Malandog River.
Its Provincial ENR Office (PENRO) in Antique has also started a series of barangay consultations and environmental lectures to heighten the awareness of local folks on the importance of proper solid waste management, clean water and clean air.
Other activities identified in support of the rehabilitation of Malandog River are:
* delineation and demarcation of boundaries
* installation of signages
* quarterly monitoring and classification of water quality
* expansion and strengthening of Adopt-An-Estero on a quarterly basis
* hiring of eight members of Bantay Suba and creation/strengthening of Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers/wardens
* networking of MPAs
* production and distribution of information, education and communication materials
* preparation of communication plan
* production/airing of radio plugs and spots
* hiring of coastal extension officers until this June 2018
To determine the water quality of Malandog River, DENR is engaging the services of a third party laboratory – the CRL Environmental Corp. – to analyze the water for heavy metals and pesticides.
In rehabilitating Malandog River, Secretary Cimatu emphasized the need to implement his top three priorities which are clean air, clean water and proper solid waste management.
“Only when we clean our water, air and practice proper solid waste management then we can attain the environmental quality that we want the future generations to inherit. Secretary Cimatu envisions our country to attain the environmental quality we all deserve to enjoy,” said Director Jim Sampulna of DENR-6. (DENR-6/PN)