Coastal cleanup is just the beginning

VOLUNTEERS from non-government organizations, national agencies, public and private schools, City Hall employees, residents, and barangays officials join the “One Time, Big Time” coastal cleanup in Iloilo City on March 30, 2019. Photos taken at Joe’s Garden in Arevalo, Iloilo City. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Iloilo City government’s “One Time Big Time” coastal cleanup on March 30, 2019 is only the beginning of a longer journey towards the restoration of the coastal waters in Iloilo City, according to Mayor Jose Espinosa III.

Inspired by the national government’s initiative in Boracay Island in Aklan and Manila Bay rehabilitation program, the city government and the City Environmental and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) initiated the cleanup of 26 coastal barangays stretching from Bitoon, Jaro to Santo Niño Sur, Arevalo.

Volunteers from non-government organizations, national agencies, public and private schools, City Hall employees, residents, and barangays officials joined in the cause of making the coastal water fit for swimming again.

In his message, Espinosa said the initiative is the start of a quest to restore the coastal waters in Iloilo City to be swimmable again.

“We are alarmed, kinahanglan biskan in one little way nga helping, ma-clean ang aton city. We have to start. This is a single step. This is the start or beginning of our quest to restore our coastal waters to be swimmable again,” he said. 

Stretching for almost 20 kilometers, the coastline of Iloilo City is composed of 26 of the biggest and most dense barangays in the metro, according to Jose Renan Escoto of CENRO.

“These barangays are the biggest and most dense barangays in the city. As population rises, ang problema with garbage comes in. That is why we will try to clean that up today,” he said. 

After the cleanup, the sustainability of the coastal areas are left to the barangay officials and residents, according to Escoto.

The performance of each barangay will be monitored and assessed with help from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), he added.

“After this big time clean up, it is left with the barangay and residents. I-continue namon monitor ang performance and our office will take care of assessment through the DENR,” he said. 

CENRO head Noel Hechanova said they are also preparing a set of Information, Education and Campaign (IEC) materials to follow the coastal cleanup.

“We need a comprehensive and awareness program. We have IEC materials gina-develop and may mga stakeholders na to ensure our effective environmental campaign,” he said.

Awareness is needed, according to Hechanova, before their next move, which is apprehension.

Bag-o kita manakop, kinahanglan may awareness. After sang coastal cleanup, manghatag, manakop, and damo pa component, anti-littering, septage management and mangrove protection,” he added.

The succeeding programs of CENRO will be administered and implemented by a Coastal Resource and Management Council, which will soon be formed, according to Hechanova.

The goal of making the coastal areas in Iloilo City is a long process but the cleanup is a good start, Hechanova said. 

“It’s a long process, malapad ang area, mabudlay kag kinahanglan gid cooperation sang tanan,” he lamented. 

But he is hopeful that after the cleanup, projects will pour for the coastal waters to be cleaned just like the Iloilo River.

Ang Iloilo River, damo nagadayaw nga nag-limpyo pero nagstart lang man na sa clean-up, hopefully we can get people and later may projects ta hopefully,” he noted.