Representing River Dwellers in a Climate that has Changed
The 4th Congressional District of Bulacan encompasses the city of Meycauayan and the municipalities of Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria, Bulacan. But predating these government institutions is a river that runs through its landscape and history. The Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System (MMORS), whose ebb and flow is inextricably linked to the quality of life of its dwellers, is a recurring advocacy for Rep. Villarica. Prioritization is apparent in the flood mitigation and control projects undertaken by the DPWH that dominate infrastructure for the 4th District and in the relevant policy formulation pursued on mangrove reversion, waste water treatment, dam management and rehabilitation, as well as relief assistance. The following is an excerpt from the privilege speech “Intergenerational Responsibility” by Rep. Villarica at the House Plenary Hall on 15 August 2011.
“A copperplate inscription dated 900 A.D. found in the river of Lumban in Laguna showed a business transaction by early Filipinos and mentions among others, the island of Binuangan, that has, apparently, retained its pre-Hispanic name and is now a barangay in the municipality of Obando, a part of my congressional district. Ipinagmamalaki ng aking asawa na doon daw sa ilog Marilao sila natutong lumangoy ng kaniyang mga kababata.
What we have now is a pollution hotspot that sears our collective conscience with shame. It gained notoriety when the New York-based environmental watchdog, Blacksmith Institute, included it as part of its list of “The World’s Worst Polluted Places” for 2007.
The MMORS has been designated as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) by the DENR in 2008 and its Governing Board has prepared a Ten-Year Rehabilitation Plan that would cost 10.2 Billion Pesos to bring the river system to a Class C water or one intended for the propagation and growth of fish and other aquatic resources. It should be noted that the water from the river system feeds into hectares of active fishponds where the produce is consumed not only by the local populace but shipped to adjoining areas primarily Metro Manila and possibly even exported.
To go about solving the problem and impress a sense of responsibility for the state of the rivers now, it is important to begin with the question: how do I, my activities and the sector where I belong, contribute to the pollution of the rivers?
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology is our intergenerational responsibility.”