Iloilo River today demonstrates a lesson not only in serious environmental restoration but also of partnerships with many stakeholders – and this is a continuing project.

This was the assessment of Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog in his welcome message during the culmination of First Philippine International River Summit graced by President Benigno Aquino III here last week.

“We will not allow ourselves to be complacent in the face of serious threat that pollution wields not only on river’s eco-system but on Iloilo City itself,” the mayor told over a thousand participants of the global forum.

Scientists and river experts from various countries including USA, Canada, Europe and Asia-Pacific region and other parts of archipelago travelled to join in discussing river development and to share best practices and experiences.

Overseas development agencies, national and local non-government organizations and the academe joined in the historic event highlighting active public-private partnerships.

“Like Iloilo City, these delegates from far and near would like to be friends and partners – allies bound by a mutual and noble cause,” said Mabilog.

“Allies who will be proud to stand shoulder to shoulder in reviving, safeguarding and making full use of our respective rivers to provide our respective peoples with dynamic socio-economic chances now and for generations to come,” he stressed.

With Aquino administration’s support – coursed through the various agencies of national government – plus the relentless assistance of Senator Franklin Drilon, the Iloilo River today is breathing new life.

“Water quality has vastly improved and marine species endemic to the river are coming back and thriving,” said Mabilog.

It was good fortune that the city’s native son Drilon joined full time in the concentrated effort, injecting precious resources and assisting the Iloilo River Development Council (IRDC) on directions to take to revive this moribund estuary.

IRDC, operating with limited resources from the city government, decided to expand its membership in April 2011 and partnered with national government agencies and the private sector.

It was established to nurse a dying Iloilo River back to life since during the leadership of then Mayor and now Congressman Jerry P. Treñas.

IRDC conceived the global conference to bring to fore socio-economic and environmental significance of rivers worldwide.

It was a great honor for Ilonggos and international participants to have the country’s chief executive as most distinguished guest for the river summit.