President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday night he would dissolve the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and transfer its task to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, believing the major river “is impossible” to revive.
This comes a week after Duterte fired PRRC chief Jose Antonio Goitia over allegations of corruption.
“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,” Duterte said in Malacañang during the oath-taking rites of government officials.
“Even Pasig Bureau, Pasig department, department of Pasig. That Pasig [River], you cannot clean it because we don’t have zoning,” he added.
The PRRC is primarily tasked to implement programs and projects aimed at reviving the polluted Pasig River connected to the Laguna de Bay and the Manila Bay, which is undergoing massive rehabilitation by a special task force headed by the DENR.
The commission was formed in January 1999 under an executive order signed by then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Duterte appointed Goitia in 2017 to lead the agency but the President said the latter spread word about his supposed appointment as Bureau of Customs collector and asked money from the people within the agency.
Last month, Duterte signed EO 90 transferring the chairmanship of PRRC from the Department of Budget and Management to the DENR.
In his speech, he suggested that rehabilitation efforts should be initially directed to factories near the 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,” he said.
In a joking mood, he said: “I take a bath there sometimes if I want bacteria in my body to be immune.”