IRS and Mandaue
BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Girlie Garces (The Freeman) - September 20, 2018 - 12:00am

I have always wondered why Mandaue City took on the insurmountable task of hosting the International River Summit (IRS) this year. In fact, in all candidness I wondered what got into the minds of the local officials when they agreed to take on the invitation to host when there really was no river to showcase.


I scoffed at the idea of their placing the spotlight on Butuanon River, and thought someone's marbles may be haywire. And indeed someone's was – mine!

Digging deeper into the reason behind why Mandaue took on this task when the Butuanon river at certain segments was a cesspool in itself, being made into an open septic tank by those who resided informally along its banks.

I realized that Mandaue was pushing its hope forward, holding on to the ropes given to them to once and for all give this river a chance to survive and revive life into its waters.

Some of us may know that there exists a multi-sectoral body called the Butuanon River Watershed Management Board (BRWMB). This organization is composed of the local government units (LGUs) of both Mandaue and Cebu cities, representatives from non- government organizations and the private sector. This was created sometime in 1995 spurred by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) study. 

This began as a simple Butuanon River Management Project participated in by The two LGUs,, the 6th congressional district of the province, north congressional district of Cebu City, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 7 (DENR), Department of Science and Technology  (DOST) Region 7, the University of San Carlos Water Resources Center, Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Citizens League for Ecological Awareness and Responsibility (CLEAR) and the technical and advisory support agency of the USEPA.

Since its beginnings, the main intention of the BRWMB was to secure the river, restore the vibrancy of the waters of this main water body that cuts across two cities and flows to the Mactan Channel. 

It recognized the importance of the contribution of this River to the development of the cities themselves noting how essential it was then and more so now to preserve the recharge areas of our potable water sources. BRWMB aimed to protect the aquifers from the intrusion of toxic substances that would kill the ultimate water sources and eventually the communities around it.

Industries were made aware of its responsibilities. Some complied, some insisted on old practices due to expediency. Several meetings of the BRWMB were conducted to boost the morale of its members to continue the crusade to restore the River to its state of glory where it was a provider of livelihood, recreation and solace.

As years went on, more and more residents continued to populate the river banks of Butuanon, and domestic wastes crept into the waters, slowly choking it, stagnating its streams, as indiscriminate throwing of refuse, suffocated the life out of the River.

Development likewise brought in more industries and with it the ills of progress.  BRWMB's optimism was slowly replaced with despair, until now...

With attention now placed on the Butuanon, by the local government and the League of Cities and Municipalities, through the International River Summit, we see the courage of the organizing teams as they grasp and build on the remaining straws to pump back life into Butuanon and improve the quality of living people in the area. 

Bringing the IRS to Mandaue is not an assuming feat. It is a strategic move that is inspired by the great improvements seen in the Iloilo Esplanade, the Marikina River flood control system, and the widened waterways of the Pasig River.

If others can do it, what can stop Mandaue? 

I am reminded of a Bible verse where God entrusted the earth to man after creating it for him. Being the last creation, God prepared everything for man, so he could have dominion over it, and be a responsible steward. God gave man this gift. Knowing the nature of God, I am confident God will honor the desire of Mandaue to take care of His gift.

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