President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he would remove the Pasig board and give its task to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), doubting the Pasig river could still be restored.
“Over the years, the factory waste, of houses, everything [go to] Pasig River. How can you clean that? So this commission in Pasig, I’ll remove it, place it under General [Roy] Cimatu of DENR,” he said in the oath-taking ceremony of new government appointees at Malacañang.
“Even Pasig Bureau, Pasig department, department of Pasig. That Pasig [River], you cannot clean it because we don’t have zoning,” the President added.
This followed after Duterte terminated Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) Chief Jose Antonio Goitia for allegedly committing corruption.
The PRRC was designed supposedly to implement activities and projects that will revive the polluted river which is connected to Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay. The latter is currently being rehabilitated by a special task force led by the DENR.
The Pasig board was established under an executive order approved by former President Joseph Estrada in 1999.
In 2017, Duterte designated Goitia to be the head of the agency but the President said the Goitia spread word that he was supposedly appointed as Bureau of Customs collector and asked for money from people in the agency.
Just last month, Duterte signed the Executive Order No. 90 which states the passing of PRRC chairmanship from the Department of Budget to the DENR.
The President, in his speech, suggested that the rehabilitation has to be directed to the factories surrounding the Pasig River.
“You have to overhaul the entire city. Unless you build new cities outside and people will migrate and there’s a lessening of people here, maybe you can start. But you can start with the factories. They are all chemicals there,” Duterte said.
He even played coy and said: “I take a bath there sometimes if I want bacteria in my body to be immune.”