Binan City’s Task Force: Linis Ilog

Binan city is located beside Laguna Lake. The pollution has been noticeable because of its dirty and unclear sight. This was caused by people’s irresponsibility or their continuous throwing of garbage in the water. This is not pointing out the citizens of Binan City only but also the citizens all the way from Tagaytay—Silang (Cavite)—GMA —Carmona—Binan. This is because the water from Tagaytay passes through the said places until it reaches and ends up in Laguna Lake. That is called “Binan River System” which is a 93-km water stretch (according to Cllr. Manabat). Therefore, everything that the water contains from Tagaytay also goes to Laguna Lake and Binan City is the most affected. Councilor Manabat even said, “tayo (Binan City) ang septic tank.”

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Photo by Nika Garing | Edited by Ady Pulido

The government started to take action to improve and save the nature and maintain the cleanliness of the lake back in 1997. (origin nung project + yung author ng proj—andun ‘to sa paper na binigay sa atin. Yung 1997 pa nagstart at si Rene Manabat ata yung author according sa notes mo. Copy-paste nalang natin yung nasa paper. Mahaba yun para humaba din ‘to hehe or lagay mo na din lahat haha pwede yown! :3). Until now, this still applies to save the water and prevent the pollution. The activities, programs, and implementation have been updated and improved over the years. The head of CENRO (City Environment and Natural Resources Office), Mr. Rodelio Lee, proudly said that the garbage in the lake gets lessen. Although, of course, it is inevitable to entirely clear up the lake because not everyone participates to the project and to save our planet. “Nalinis na naming ng maayos. Although, well, hindi naman siyento-porsiyentong malinis. Well marami pa ring matitigas ang ulo na nagtatapon pa rin.” Mr. Lee said.

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Photo by Ady Pulido

Men Behind the Regime

“So syempre, ang atin, well, maintaining ang kalinisan,” Mr. Lee said first about the project, Task Force: Linis Ilog. In this program, there are contractual employees from Binan City who cleans the lake daily and the coastal area occasionally (as said by Mr. Lee with pride and conviction). He also specified and clarified the systems of waste water discharge of industries in the city. Laguna Lake Development Authority (L.L.D.A.) gives permit regarding the water waste discharge to the lake. But that doesn’t go easily because before the authority release the permit, the industries must have treated their water waste first before discharging it to the lake. The industries are required to take STP or Sewerage Treatment Plant and both of the industrial parks in Binan City, LIIP and LTI, already have centralized STP. Through the help of L.L.D.A., the government of Binan City produced “BiSiGCaTa River Rehabilitation and Protection Foundation” which stands for BInan—SIlang—Gma—CArmona—TAgaytay. This was initiated by Binan City because it is the most affected area. They talked with the four municipalities to cooperate, participate, and help the lake; “Dahil Binan ang nasalo ng lahat ng basura,” Mr. Lee said. Fortunately, they corresponded. It was also L.L.D.A. or the environmental aid of L.L.D.A. who endorsed Binan City to World Bank; “dun yun nagsimula,” Cllr. Manabat said.

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Snapshot by Ady Pulido

When CENRO did not exist yet, the point person of the project is today’s councilor Rene Manabat. As the time passed by and the government improved their officials and services, an environmental group existed and called City Environment and Natural Resources which is now headed by Mr. Rodelio Lee. His job is to be the point person of the projects for the environmental problems of the city. Although, councilor Rene Manabot is always beside Mr. Lee to guide and help him in every environmental problem the government is handling. There were also a couple of employees inside CENRO but it only has one room which is for Mr. Rodelio Lee. That’s where we had our interview.

To emphasize the origin of the Task Force: Linis Ilog, Cllr. Manabat shared the story…
Back in 1997, during summer season the water was reducing until the garbage and trashes got left behind and clustered. The fisher folks complained about this—sometimes they get fishes inside the plastic trashes. He also quoted the fisherman, “hindi sir, mas nakakaawa kayong mga nasa land kasi kaming mga mangingisda, kapag ang nahuli namin ay nasa magandang tubig yun ang kinakain naming. Yung mga nahuhuli naming isa na nasa maruming parte ng tubig yun ang dinadala naming sa palengke na binibili niyo naman. Kaya mas kawawa kayo.” Because of this, concerns occurred that we should clean our river. There were stakeholders who started foundations and even the world bank contributed. Local government units, NGO’s, stakeholders, fishermen, farmers, etc. started to work together. That is the birth of the regime Task Force: Linis Ilog.

Awareness and Action

Mr. Rodelio Lee also informed us that the river is Type C which means the water is only good for recreational purposes and fisheries. They were also able to inform the people about the project through laws, information and education campaign, flyers, meetings, seminars, and they had this activity named “bangkaton” which is a boat raceing to let people actively join the project. There were also volunteer schools and NGO’s who participate the project by cleaning the lake. “Ang purpose kasi nun, ipakita at ipaalam sa mga taga-ilog na hindi tapunan ng basura ang ilog. Yon ay pwede gawing, aside from pinanggagalingan ng kabuhayan at pagkain, pwede gamitin sa mga recreational and sport activities na tulad ng karera ng bangka, swimming competition (na hindi pa pwede ngayon),” Mr. Rodelio Lee said.

Lessons for the Future

Rodelio Lee: Nung umpisa mahirap…

Rene Manabat: Binabato pa kami ng basura habang naglilinis ng ilog!

Rodelio Lee: Talagang hindi siya nakukuha ng mabilis… panahon yan na ma-develop hanggang sa karakter na ng tao ang ma-develop niyan. Yun ang pinakamahirap sa lahat. Kaya we are focusing sa mga kabataan. Tingin ko kayo, baka may pagasa pa sa inyo e… na baguhin ang mga sistema. Pero sa mga katulad naming, mahirap na baguhin. So malaking bagay kung may mga kabataan… ayan sa mga schools naman… tinuturo na naman yan, sa T.V. napapanood na yan. More enlightened, ika nga, kayong mga kabataan kaysa noong panahon namin… Kayo ang enlightened generation, ika nga.

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