Duterte wants DENR in charge of Pasig River rehab commission

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to dissolve the Pasig River rehabilitation body and put the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in charge.

Duterte made the announcement Tuesday during a speech at the swearing into office of new officials in Malacañang. He said it was impossible to clean the river because waste has been dumped into the river for the longest time.

"Over the years, ang labasan ng mga factory, mga bahay, lahat, Pasig River. O how you can — you clean that? Kaya itong commission sa Pasig tanggalin ko na ito, place it under General (Roy) Cimatu sa DENR. Environment na," he said.

[Translation: Over the years, waste from factories, homes, all of it, goes to the Pasig River. How can you clean that? So the commission in charge of the Pasig I'll dissolve it, and put it under General Cimatu with the DENR.]

The president was unclear whether he wants the body to be under the DENR or that its functions will be absorbed by the agency. The commission was created through an executive order issued by then President Joseph Estrada in 1999. It is chaired by the Budget Secretary and co-chaired by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman.

Last week, Duterte fired Jose Antonio Goitia, the head of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, saying "he's telling people that he will be appointed Customs collector and already was collecting."

He added that he has ordered an investigation on the entire commission "connected with their work in the Pasig River."

Goitia was appointed to the PRRC in February 2017. In October 2018, the commission won an international award for successfully reviving the river, declared biologically dead in the 1990s due to heavy pollution.