Dead and polluted waterways, inadequate water systems make heat in Philippines unbearable

Apr. 21, 2007

MANILA — Dead rivers full of debris and poisonous industrial waste, faulty and inadequate sewers, and lack of cheap potable water systems are making the extreme heats spells hitting Metro Manila even more unbearable for ordinary Filipinos, an environmental activist group said today.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, along with party list groups Bayan Muna, Kabataan, and Suara Bangamoro and scientists organization Samahan ng mga Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM), dramatized this call by holding an estero (creek) clean-up along the Lagarian creek near Barangay Pinagkaisahan and EDSA Avenue corner Kamuning Road in Quezon City.

Kalikasan National Coordinator Clemente Bautista said that the “state of water pollution throughout the metropolis will make the heat even harder to beat, especially for poor Metro Manila residents”.

“Almost all major rivers in Metro Manila are now biologically-dead, the most infamous of which is the Pasig River. Nationwide, 50 out of 421 rivers?or one out of eight?rivers are biologically-dead, or incapable of sustaining life, and are hazardous if used as drinking, recreation, or irrigation sources. Thus, even if we are literally surrounded by water, Filipinos can not readily use these sources to seek relief from the scorching summer heat. In fact, only 65% of the population is able to source water for domestic consumption, a large portion of which remains unsafe for drinking,” Bautista said.

Bautista also called attention to the health hazards posed by the lack of adequate sewerage systems in the cities, unabated industrial waste and the lack of an effective garbage collection system.

“Only 13% of the population in Metro Manila is connected to centralized sewerage systems. Around 25% of Metro Manila’s garbage ends up clogging rivers, esteros and drainage canals, and waterways,” Bautista said.

“People are suffering from the government and local government officials’ lack of a comprehensive water management system and the absence of a comprehensive rehabilitation and management plans to revive our dying or dead rivers. While these officials can afford to beat the heat by staying inside their air-conditioned cars and rooms or go on vacation to cooler climates, majority of the poor have to suffer from the lack of such basic necessities, such as safe and affordable drinking water,” Bautista said.

“Obviously, we must not vote for such officials in the coming elections this May,” Bautista ended.

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