DHSUD on Pasig River rehab: Clean waters; decent housing

President Marcos’ Executive Order 35, constituting the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development (IAC-PRUD), is targeting not only to rehabilitate the Pasig River but to maximize its economic potential and address issues like safe and decent housing for informal settler families (ISFs).

Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar will head the council and has already coordinated with other member-agencies to discuss initial plans on how to implement EO35.

“The issuance of Executive Order 35 is like hitting many birds with one stone. It will trigger a huge positive impact on housing, transportation and even tourism,” Acuzar said.

“The rehabilitation of Pasig River could serve as a catalyst for economic opportunities along its banks from Manila to Pasig,” he added.

The DHSUD said that while EO 35 primarily calls for full rehabilitation of Pasig River waterways, its implementation will also secure the safety of thousands of ISFs living along the riverbanks, promote mixed-use development and tourism that will trigger economic opportunities.

The agency has already laid out initial plans covering pilot areas along the portions of Pasig River in Manila in coordination with some of the IAC-PRUD member-agencies like MMDA, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The IAC-PRUD was primarily tasked to “facilitate and ensure the full rehabilitation of the banks along the Pasig River water system and nearby water systems in order to provide alternative transportation, propel economic opportunities, and boost tourism activities.”

The council was directed to formulate a Pasig River Urban Development Plan which shall serve as the blueprint for the full rehabilitation of the river with the end view of realizing its full potential for mixed-use development, transportation, recreation, tourism and sustainable human settlement, taking into consideration its historic and cultural value.

It was also ordered to study, prepare and implement a comprehensive shelter plan for massive relocation of informal settler families and other unauthorized or unlawful occupants along the Pasig River banks, including identification of suitable relocation sites; strategies for economic and social integration for ISFs, and long-term solutions to address ongoing migration into the Pasig River banks.

Acuzar, along with key DHSUD officials, already inspected key areas along the Pasig River, and subsequently laid out plans on how to implement the President’s order.

Initially, Acuzar checked on the portions of the historical river in Manila, particularly at the back of the Central Post Office, which is being eyed as a pilot area for mixed-use development and tourism.

“We already have plans, and we will soon present it to the Office of the President and before the council for approval,” he said.

The DHSUD chief has already met with MMDA Chairman Romando Artes, vice chair of the IAC-PRUD, to discuss the council’s initial steps to put the order’s provisions into actionable strategies for the member-agencies.

To monitor the progress of the rehabilitation, EO35 tasked the IAC-PRUD to submit to the Office of the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, a quarterly status report.