By Patricia Lourdes Viray, November 14, 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Michael Varcas, The Star

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has officially ordered the disestablishment of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).

The president earlier called on Congress to abolish the body as it no longer has a function to perform as there “is nothing to clean in the Pasig River.”

Malacañang released a copy of the order dated November 8.

Duterte signed Executive Order 83 abolishing the PRRC and transferring its powers to the Manila Bay Task Force, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Department of Public Works and Highways.

Under EO 83, the Manila Bay Task Force will be in charge of the overall implementation of the Pasig River master plan.

The plan includes harnessing the river’s potential for transportation, recreation and tourism while undergoing rehabilitation and restoration of marine life.

The DENR will monitor the enforcement of the Civil Code, particularly in all waterways leading to the Pasig River. It will also be in charge of preventing the dumping of untreated industrial wastewater and sewerage into the river.

The order also mandates the DHSUD, in collaboration with the DENR and the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, to expedite the relocation of informal settlers and other unlawful occupants along the river banks.

The MMDA and the DPWH were directed to coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, local government units and the Philippine National Police to ensure that the dismantling and removal of establishments along the river that violate the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

EO takes effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation.

Upon effectivity of the order, the Department of Budget and Management will supervise the winding up of the operations of the PRRC.

Last September, Duterte terminated former PRRC executive director Jose Antonio Goitia following reports of alleged anomalies in the agency.

The president later on declared that the river cannot be restored to its original state due to new factories and the increasing population in Metro Manila.

The PRRC was established in 1999 to ensure that the Pasig River was brought back to its historically pristine condition.