ROXAS City – Capiz governor Antonio del Rosario promised to revitalize the Panay River, which he claimed to have become “polluted” and “not fit for human activities.”
Del Rosario plans to form a Panay River Council, under which a “Task Force Save Panay River” will operate, in what is seen as a long-term campaign to rid the river of and protect it from pollutants.
Citing Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office head Valentin Talavero, the governor said the Panay River is now classified with a “C Status.”
“C Status means ‘polluted with human waste and not suitable for seashell production and culture,’” he told a news conference at the capitol here. “It is also not fit for bathing, swimming and other human activities.”
The Panay River is a source of livelihood of Capisnons in the hinterland and at the riverbanks. It is where most seashells, especially talaba (oysters) and tahong (green mussels), sold at the Teodoro Arcenas Trade Center here came from.
But the river’s resources are at risk because of pollution, del Rosario told reporters.
An 11-minute video documentation by the Capiz Aksyon News Center (formerly Capiz Provincial Press Bureau), which operates under the Office of the Governor, shows septic and other waste materials from hospitals, urban poor houses and backyard hog raisers, among others, being disposed at the Panay River.
“I am so dismayed that the river is so dirty, [what] with [all the] garbage and human waste,” del Rosario said. “Why do they (local government) allow this?”
The governor laid out his plans to the capitol department heads.
He said the Provincial Legal Office is helping him work on an executive order creating the council and the task force.
The Panay River Council shall demolish illegal structures along the river, including urban poor shanties and fish cages, which contribute to siltation.
It shall comprise representatives from the departments of Environment and Natural Resources and of Public Works and Highways, engineers and building inspectors from the 16 towns and this city, and non-government and media organizations.
“If necessary, I will encourage the Council to file cases with the Ombudsman against engineers and building inspectors if they do not do their job of protecting the Panay River,” del Rosario stressed.
Asked about commercial mining, which is seen to possibly pollute the Panay River, del Rosario said he will not allow it as long he is the governor but pointed out his office is independent of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).
The SP has passed Provincial Ordinance No. 9 series of 2016, which lifted the 50-year moratorium on all large-scale mining activities in Capiz. (John Heredia/PN)