Iloilo River’s sustainable development serves as an inspiration for business magnate Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP), top chief executive officer of several giant firms in the country.

He lauded local government leaders and the people of Iloilo City at the First Philippine International River Summit for leading the way in the clean up and rehabilitation of the Iloilo River, an initiative he said continues to inspire him.

MVP said he derives inspiration from the success of Iloilo’s own experience, expressing strong optimism that the mission to revive 421 rivers, including 20 large river systems and most especially the 50 rivers that were considered “biologically dead” is not too impossible to achieve.

He also cited the city government’s strong efforts to stop the dumping of pollutants into the river.

MVP praised Iloilo City’s systematic and corroborative programs and approaches in clearing waterways of man-made obstructions and for initiating “programs to transfer communities along riverbanks to other sites in an orderly and humane manner.”

With strong resolve, with advanced technology, with the organization to develop and carry out the masterplan and with the experience of Iloilo City in successfully doing a clean-up and rehabilitation of its river system, MVP expressed optimism that efforts to save the rest of the country’s rivers will also succeed.

There’s an exemplary cooperation between the local government of Iloilo led by Mayor Jed Mabilog and legislators such as Senator Franklin Drilon and Cabinet members led by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Mon Paje, and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, noted MVP.

He was referring to the global river forum as holding a “worthwhile initiative that deserves the attention and support of entire country and international community.”

Public and private partnership in reviving the country’s river systems and reversing their dying status is “badly needed,” MVP stressed.

He also bared initiatives by Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, both part of the PLDT Group he chairs, to support a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) dubbed PROJECT NOAH aimed at building flood monitoring and warning systems in 18 of country’s major river basins including Iloilo.

MVP reiterated PLDT’s commitment allowing DOST to install automatic rain gauges (ARGs) in 600 cell sites of Smart and Sun all over the country. Smart and Sun will also handle the transmission of rainfall data to DOST central database.

This will enable DOST to have accurate real-time rainfall measurements in all these river basins.

Under Project NOAH, DOST will also map out 18 target river basins using Light Detection and Ranging or LIDAR system.

LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can generate very accurate topographical maps of river basins. When combined with rainfall data, it will eventually allow DOST to create computer-generated flood forecasting models to predict the amount and depth of flood for a given area, enhancing disaster preparedness for any specific area of the country.

MVP also chairs the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) initially created to coordinate with government in reconstruction of areas affected by Typhoon Ondoy in Luzon.

Through PDRF initiative, World Bank funded a technical assistance program to help government and private sector integrate existing flood-control plans and develop a single master plan that takes off from the painful lessons of Ondoy.

PDRF as part of components of masterplan has reforested 500-has of Marikina Watershed in past year and a half in collaboration with private companies, NGOs, DENR, and local governments and communities.

PDRF also assisted people living in the watersheds to work their way out of poverty.

Our country is blessed with much rainfall and rich freshwater resources, said MVP.

“So much water is at our disposal that we have taken it for granted to the point of even failing to protect it,” he added.

MVP’s keynote speech in the river confab as Philex Mining Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, was delivered Thursday by Atty. Michael T. Toledo, the company’s Mining Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs.

Media mogul MVP is also chairman of TV5 where InterAksyon.com is the online news portal. (reports from interaksyon.com)

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