SMC spending P1-B for Pasig River cleanup

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has committed to spend P1 billion for the cleanup of the Pasig River – touted as the boldest and most recent attempt at reviving the biologically inactive river. 

In partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), SMC said the cleanup will start before the end of May.

The cleanup, which is shaping up to be the largest joint government and private sector effort to clean up the heavily polluted and silted Pasig River, is the second such initiative of SMC.

SMC President Ramon S. Ang

For the Pasig River rehabilitation project, SMC is looking to extract some 50,000 metric tons of silt and waste every month, or a total of 600,000 metric tons per year from the river. 

To ensure sustainability, SMC integrated the river’s rehabilitation into plans for the Pasig River Expressway, to be built on the banks or sides of the river, and seen to further decongest traffic and improve accessibility within Metro Manila.

Last year, the company began a similarly ambitious P1 billion effort to clean up the 27-kilometer Tullahan-Tinajeros River system, running from La Mesa Dam through Quezon City, Malabon, and Navotas -- cities known for flooding during the rainy season.

“We are taking decisive action to clean up our major river systems to balance the needs of our economy and the environment towards a viable and sustainable path forward,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said.

He added that the company is committed to “rid our major river systems of silt and solid waste and return them to their ideal depths, so they can more effectively channel flood waters out to the Manila Bay.”

“More importantly, we want to help significantly reduce plastic waste pollution in our seas and oceans--which endanger our marine resources, and threaten fishing grounds,” Ang noted.

In a report released by scientific online publication “Our World in Data” last May 1, the Tullahan River is listed as one of seven Philippine rivers in Asia that contribute the most plastic waste to the oceans.

Other Philippine rivers in the list are the Pasig River, Meycauayan River in Bulacan, Pampanga River, Libmanan River in Camarines Sur, Rio Grande de Mindanao River, and the Agno River in Pangasinan. 

“Like traffic, congestion, and smog, pollution of our bodies of water is one of the many issues that have made life difficult and less than ideal for all of us these past couple of decades,” said Ang.

He added that, “While many of us may not immediately notice it, we are paying a big price for these compounding problems. Our advocacy is to take action and undo some of the damage and rescue and rehabilitate our rivers.”

Apart from the Tullahan and Pasig Rivers, SMC has earlier announced its plans to dredge the Meycauayan Rivers as part of its environment and flood mitigation program for Bulacan province.