The Sicaba River that crosses Manapla and Cadiz City in Negros Occidental is up for rehabilitation of its physical and environmental state, under a collaboration between the Victorias Milling Company and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
A memorandum of agreement was recently signed between the VMC, represented by its president, Minnie Chua, and VMC Finance Officer Kristine Cabuguason, and DENR Region 6 Environmental Management Bureau chief Ramar Niel Pascua, which states that within the first month, immediate surface clean-up and installation of approved engineering solutions will be implemented at the pilot site.
“Environment protection has been part of our thrust, and we welcome this collaboration with DENR and the municipality of Manapla and Cadiz City,” Chua said.
On the other hand, Pascua said that the program “emphasizes the significant role of both the public and private sectors and the community in achieving a cleaner, safer and healthier environment.”
Chua said that a comprehensive program to reduce pollution at the Sicaba River and its minor tributaries will be implemented at a specific segment, identified as the pilot site that has been agreed upon by all parties.
She added that there is an open agreement as well to possibly extend the site or replicate programs in other portions of the river in the future.
Chua also said that some of the river rehabilitation measures identified in the program include the regular cleanup of the river, 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.
Manapla Mayor Manuel Escalante also welcomed the initiative, stressing also 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.
As stipulated in the MOA, 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 stake holder groups in the area.
On the other hand, the 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.
Chua also said that they have solicited the help of environmental experts that will focus on the rehabilitation part, and have appointed key personnel to directly be in-charge of immediately implementing the program.*GPB