Rehab of Sicaba River looms

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Plan to rehabilitate Sicaba River is underway.

The Sicaba River, a tributary that crosses Manapla and Cadiz City, is up for rehabilitation soon.

This was after a memorandum of agreement was recently signed by Atty. Ramar Niel Pascua, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 6, and Victorias Milling Company President Minnie Chua and Kristine Cabuguason, VMC chief finance officer, which states that the immediate surface clean-up and installation of approved engineering solutions will be implemented at the pilot site, within the first month.

Chua said this will form part of VMC’s sustainability program. “Environment protection has been part of our thrust,” she said as she welcomed the collaboration with DENR and the local government units of Manapla and Cadiz City in Negros Occidental.

Pascua said the program “emphasizes the significant role of both the public and private sectors and the community in achieving a cleaner, safer and healthier environment.”

Manapla Mayor Manuel Escalante also welcomed the initiative of VMC, and stressed that environment protection is high-up on his governance agenda as well.

“This is one program which I hope the residents will embrace and our business partners will fully support,” Escalante said.

Chua said that a comprehensive program to reduce pollution at the Sicaba River and its minor tributaries will be implemented per specific segment identified as the pilot site and agreed upon by all parties. There is an open agreement as well to possibly extend the site or replicate programs in other portions of the river in the future.

As stipulated in the MOA, some of the river rehabilitation measures identified in the program include the regular river cleanup, phytoremediation programs through constructed wetlands, planting of bamboo and other species along river banks, rip-rapping or coco-matting, and construction and greening of linear parks.

DENR will take charge of monitoring industrial and commercial establishments that run along the Sicaba River, assist in establishing Materials Recovery Facilities in concerned barangays, strictly implement and act against violators of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Clean Water Act, and assist in community social preparation and other trainings for leaders and stakeholders groups in the area.

Chua said that VMC will take charge of undertaking regular water quality monitoring of the river and its tributaries, assist DENR in trainings and program implementation, and help in community mobilization to support the project.

“Manapla and Cadiz are part of our constituency and this program will help foster better relations among our stakeholders,” Chua said.

In fact, she added that they solicited the help of environmental experts to focus on the rehabilitation part and have appointed key personnel to directly be in-charge of immediately implementing the program. – GPB