PLANS and efforts are in the works to realize the dream of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who considers himself an Antiqueño, to transform San Jose as the country’s cleanest and best town.

Cimatu gathered the town mayor and barangay captains of San Jose for a meeting and dialogue on things related to DENR’s mandate.

He enumerated the following mandates and laws where the local chief executives have a role in the implementation – clean air, clean water, solid waste management, and sewerage and septage plan, forestry, lands and land titles and biodiversity, among others.

The secretary pushed these concerns based on his experience during the clean up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay and Boracay Island, and wants to prevent Antique from experiencing the same.

As the head of the Department and Regional Cluster Head for Regional Peace and Development, Cimatu wants Antique to lead the way.

He mentioned some of the ongoing environmental projects being pursued in tandem with the local government unit such as the rehabilitation of the historical Malandog River that serves as boundary between the towns of Hamtic and San Jose, and the clean up and revival of Bagumbayan Creek, at the center of the town of San Jose.

The environmental status of the town was presented in terms of water quality of the discharges on the nearby creeks, rivers or sea; on solid waste management in terms of their compliance on proper waste segregation and disposal; and the status of compliance of their municipal dumpsite.

On the result of the recent water quality monitoring conducted by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-6, analysis show that it exceeded the standards in terms of MPN (most probable number)/100ml.

According to EMB 6 Regional Director Sophie Manuel, these water discharges came from the different sources – markets, households and drainage canals.

The group opined that the poor water quality in the three outfalls was due to improper segregation and disposal of solid and liquid wastes. This should be addressed immediately to be led by the concerned barangay leaders.

DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco “Toto” E. Milla, Jr. read the provisions of Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000) that spell out the mandate for all LGUs to lead in its implementation in order for the barangay leaders to fully understand their roles in environmental management.

Mayor Elmer C. Untaran of San Jose disclosed that based on the data, some of the households have no sanitary toilet and discharges their untreated household wastes directly to the drainage canal which is supposed to be solely used to drain rainwater.

There are also houses that have a backyard piggery of one or two heads whose wastes discharges that goes directly to the nearby canal or to the creek.

“And considering that we have already a municipal ordinance that prohibits backyard piggery on houses along the main roads and an ordinance for each and every household to have a sanitary toilet, what we will do is to immediately do a House-to-House inspection and for those who have violations we will issue a Notice of Violation,” Untaran said.

“These are the things that we need to look into and to act accordingly in order to fully address the problem and not to be like Boracay and Manila Bay,”, ec. Cimatu said.

On the part of the local water district, their services will not only delve on providing  water to their consumers but also to provide a Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) to ensure that waste water discharges complies with the standards.

The water district’s officer-in-charge did not deny that indeed this is within their mandate but almost all water districts in the whole country are guilty for this, as this is not being observed or followed.  He is therefore thankful that with the leadership and challenge from Secretary Cimatu, the town of San Jose, Antique maybe the first municipality in the country to have its own STP.

Task Force Bagumbayan is being created composed of DENR PENRO Antique headed by PENRO Andre Untal, San Jose local government, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with Antique Water District.

The aim of the task force is to closely check, monitor and supervise the implementation of various activities in the implementation of environmental programs and to realize the ultimate goal of making the municipality of San Jose be the best among the rest in the country.

Clean Air, Clean Water and Proper Solid Waste Management are among the 10-Priority programs of Sec. Cimatu who is married to Fe Aguillon of Antique. (DENR-6)