By Lydia C. Pendon
ILOILO CITY – The city government here will host the First National River Summit before the end of this year and expected to set the pace of river development with the private sector.
City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the summit was inspired by Livable Communities (Livcom) Award garnered by Iloilo City during a ceremony in Chicago, USA last November 2010.
Mabilog said the city will spearhead the national conference of about 40 to 50 local government units in the country invited to participate in a two-day summit showing the best practices in 9 to 11 rivers in the Philippines.
On the other hand, Senator Franklin M. Drilon is urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Rivers of the World Foundation to co-sponsor the summit slated last week of October or early November this city.
Drilon said he is strongly supporting the river summit to call people’s attention on the importance of the river to everyday life and for the future generations.
In the Philippines, there a total of 14 river systems intercrossing of different rivers. Eight of these are in Panay Island that greatly needs rehabilitation, conservation and massive watershed development.
In Western Visayas alone, there are 881 rivers, 27 lakes and 42 lagoons, while the province of Iloilo hosts major river systems such as the big Aganan-Tigum and Jalaur-Suague, among others.
Iloilo City on the other hand, hosts four tributary creeks and two major rivers that are considered as “arms of the sea’ for having water source from the sea. These are the 15-kilometer Iloilo River that divides the seven city districts and the Batiano River in Molo-Arevalo area up the municipality of Oton, Iloilo.
The city government, with the help of Drilon is currently conducting massive rehabilitation and clean-up of the Iloilo River by demolishing illegal fishpens and fishtraps, other illegal structures and establishing an esplanade project at the river banks.
More than 300 houses of informal settlers along the river are set for demolition and relocation.