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Aquino reaffirms government commitment to preserve country's water resources

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Aquino reaffirms government commitment to preserve country's water resources: June 01, 2012

JARO, Iloilo City: President Benigno S. Aquino III reaffirmed the government’s commitment to preserve the country’s water resources through the fulfillment of various programs which are being spearheaded by concerned agencies as he underscored the importance of unity and cooperation among the Filipino people to ensure its effective realization.

In his speech during the 1st Philippine International River Summit at the Eon Centennial Resort Hotel and Convention Center of the Tierra Village, here on Friday, the President cited the various initiatives of the administration involving the government, the private sector and the citizenry which, he said, are geared towards sustainable national development.

“Rest assured your government is doing its share, apart from improving our efficiency in protecting and managing our water resources, we also have our national greening program which would have allowed us to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land by the time I step down (from office),” the President said.

“The DENR has had much success in their Adapt an Estero/River program. Right now they are working with 272 different partners from the private sector who have adopted 186 different bodies of water. These partners of ours from the private sector have agreed to be guardians, so to speak, fulfilling an important role in reducing water pollution, increasing dredging activities and preserving our rivers and esteros,” he added.

The President urged the people to spread the spirit of cooperation among themselves and support the government programs on environmental protection.

“Collaboration is key if we want to succeed… we already have partners in the national and local governments and in the private sector, and we have you who are here today. What we need to do now is to extend this partnership to each and every Filipino,” he stressed.

“The DENR has taken the first step by proposing the observance of Philippine River Day every year on March 22 to increase awareness of our campaign to restore and preserve rivers all over the Philippines… such commemoration will give us a venue to unite our efforts to save our rivers and will bind us of our duty to the environment, a duty that must be fulfilled every day,” he further explained.

The Chief Executive also noted the adverse effects of daily human activities to the different bodies of water as he encouraged them to be vigilant and cooperative in balancing their activities which will be favorable to the country's water resources.

“Our presence here today signifies that all of us, whether we are members of the government or members of civil society… whether we are Filipinos or foreigners, have taken on the shared responsibility of protecting our rivers. Knowing as we do that human activities have contributed to the degradation of this important resource, we can now take the necessary steps to correct our mistakes,” the President said.

“We have been given a chance to learn from each other and this summit has shown us that there are ways for us to balance our needs with our wants, to make use of our rivers and other water resources without destroying or derailing them,” he said.

Among those present during the event were other government officials that include Senator Franklin Drilon, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma Jr. and Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Also in attendance were local government officials led by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Iloilo City Representative Jerry Trenas and Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.

The summit is part of the continuing efforts of the government to effectively manage the country’s rivers and river basins.

The event, anchored on the theme “My River, My Life,” focuses on the four major issues such as governance, biodiversity conservation and management, climate change, disaster risk management and quality water management.

Leading experts in the field of river management, aquatic biodiversity and global climate change from the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries convened to discuss and share sustainable river basin management practices that can be replicated by other cities.

The Iloilo City river summit is the first ever Philippine initiative that seeks to provide a global platform for action on environmental, economic and social issues confronting rivers and river basins.

The global forum serves as a venue for leading experts, scientists, policy makers and local leaders to identify challenges, opportunities, issues, concerns and best practices for effective management and sustainable development of rivers, particularly focusing on rivers in the urban centers that are supportive to the attainment of sustainable cities.

Marikina City will be the next host of the Philippine International River Summit during its second holding in the country next year. (jcl/12:10 p.m.)