Press Releases


The Task Force Build Back Better (TF-BBB) will begin its dredging activities for Phase 2 of the Marikina River Restoration Project in Barangay Santolan, Pasig City on Wednesday, 21 July 2021.

A short ceremony to be officiated by DENR Secretary and TF-BBB Chairperson Roy A. Cimatu and Pasig City Mayor Victor “Vico” Sotto will mark the start of Phase 2 of the project.

The Marikina River Restoration project was launched by TF-BBB following the devastation and flooding caused by typhoons Rolly (international name: Goni) and Ulysses (international name: Vamco) in Metro Manila last year.

Experts have pointed out that one reason behind the flooding—which partially or fully submerged more than 40,000 homes in Marikina City alone—is the reduced capacity of the Marikina River to receive and drain excess rainwater. This prompted Sec. Cimatu to order Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan of DENR National Capital Region to conduct an aerial and ground survey of the waterway and to determine encroachments by comparing the survey results with official land records.

Last February, the TF-BBB launched the Marikina River Restoration project at Barangay Industrial Valley Complex in Marikina City together with Marikina Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro. Phase 1 of the project involved the removal of identified encroachments, dredging, and widening of Marikina River along Barangays Barangka, Calumpang, and Industrial Valley Complex.

Sec. Cimatu promised Mayor Marcy to complete Phase 1 of the project within seven months or less. The project, however, was completed two months ahead of the deadline.

Phase 1 covered a total area of 6,936 square meters and dredged material amounting to 41,625 cubic meters.

Sec. Cimatu is set to hand over the completed project to Mayor Marcy in a short ceremony preceding the launch of Phase 2 at Olandes area, Barangay IVC in Marikina City.

Phase 2 of the project, on the other hand, will consist of the removal of identified encroachments on the stretch of the Marikina River covering parts of Barangay Santolan and Barangay Ugong in Pasig City.

Lingunan Creek in Valenzuela City was awarded the ‘Most Improved Estero in Metro Manila’ by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - National Capital Region (DENR NCR) in a simple awarding ceremony held Tuesday, 9 March 2021 at the BMB Amphitheater, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.

Garnering a total of 86.53 points, Lingunan Creek led the pack of 14 waterways nominated by Metro Manila local government units to the “Gawad Taga-ilog: Search for Most Improved Estero in Metro Manila” conducted by the DENR NCR last year. The other winners are Park Creek 22 located in Marikina City as the first placer, and Bangkulasi River in Navotas City as the second placer. 

Grand winner Lingunan Creek was also awarded the ‘People’s Choice Award,” after getting the most number of “likes” and “hearts” in online public voting held via the official Facebook of DENR NCR, tallied at 10.8k combined reactions. 

The DENR NCR launched the “Gawad Taga-ilog: Search for Most Improved Estero in Metro Manila” in October last year to give recognition to the contribution and efforts of the local government units, particularly the barangays, in keeping their waterways clean and trash-free, as well as for their active participation in the on-going cleanup and rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

 “We would like to extend our gratitude to all the local executives of Metro Manila, including the barangay officials, who made an extra mile in their clean-up drive despite the challenges we are currently facing due to the pandemic,” DENR NCR Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan said during the awarding event. 

Caancan said the cleanup and improvement of esteros and other waterways done in the last two years, 2019 and 2020, are clear manifestations of the people’s support to the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay. Of the 16 cities and a municipality comprising Metro Manila, 14 LGUs participated in the search.  No less than the local executives signed the nomination form for their “best estero” candidate. The estero nominees were judged according to the following criteria:  physical improvement - 40%, social mobilization, and transformation – 30%, sustainability, and replicability – 20%, and partnerships – 10%.

The barangay hosting the winning esteros were given a plaque of recognition and cash prizes amounting to Php 50,000 for the grand winner Lingunan creek, Php 35,000 for second placer Parian Creek 22, and Php 25,000 for Bangkulasi river.  An additional cash prize of Php 20,000 was given to Lingunan creek as the ‘People’s Choice’ awardee. ###

In the wake of the devastating floods that plunged Marikina City and several other parts of Metro Manila underwater in November last year, the Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) announced that it will begin dredging activities in Marikina River on Wednesday, 17 February 2021.

Environment Secretary and TF BBB chair Roy A. Cimatu made the announcement following reports that portions of the river have been illegally reclaimed, reducing drastically the ability of the waterway to contain excess rainwater during typhoons. Cimatu also said that a number of structures have been found occupying easement areas, in violation of Presidential Decree 1067 or Philippine Water Code.

“Using official land records dating back as far as 1914, and historical maps and satellite photos from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) as basis, DENR National Capital Region conducted aerial and ground verification surveys which confirm encroachments not only in the river itself but in the designated legal easements as well”, Cimatu said.

Article 51 of PD 1067 explicitly prohibits the construction of any permanent structure along 3 meters of the banks of rivers and streams and shores of seas and lakes in urban areas like Metro Manila, as these areas are reserved “for public use”.

Based on existing land records too, 25 lot parcels with a total area of 271,625 square meters (27 hectares) were reclaimed without necessary permits, partially or completely encroaching into the Marikina River.

Eight of these parcels covering 12,039 square meters have been placed under Category 1 or parcels of land found to be reclaimed but with no titles nor claimants.

Placed under Category 2, meanwhile, are five titled lots which partially encroaches on 10,418 square meters of the river.

Under Category 3 are sixteen titled properties measuring 22,467 square meters which are in the river itself. 

The pilot dredging will be in the portion of the river near Marcos Highway in Barangay Kalumpang. This will be immediately followed by a bamboo planting activity on the banks of Barangay Industrial Valley Complex, both in Marikina City.

“The widening of Marikina River to its original width is but the start of a series of activities the Task Force has identified to address the perennial problem of flooding within the Marikina River Basin,” Cimatu added.

Cimatu said that the restored riverbanks will be planted with bamboo to help prevent riverbank erosion and siltation, one of the strategies that TF BBB has adopted in the rehabilitation of Cagayan River.

“We will have to show our political will here and sustain our efforts to rehabilitate Marikina River and other waterways. This is just a prelude to the bigger one,” Cimatu said, referring to the tasks awaiting the TF BBB in downstream portions of the river, particularly in Pasig area where the riverbank is narrower due to the reclamations and presence of illegal permanent structures.

Cimatu said that the width of the river in the upstream portion is about 90 meters wide; it then narrows down to 80 meters at the boundary of the Marikina-Pasig boundary and becomes uneven, varying from anywhere to 46 meters to 78  meters from thereon.

‘It is like traffic.  From a three-lane highway, the river becomes a single lane highway once it reaches Pasig,” Cimatu explained, citing figures from the DPWH. Records also show that it is not only the width of the river that has considerably decreased but its depth as well as the upstream portions measures about eight meters deep but only three to five meters deep by the time it merges with Pasig River.  ###

Despite incessant rains the evening before, volunteers showed up in various cleanup sites in Metro Manila to join the observance of the 34th installment of the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) on Saturday, 21 September, 2019.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan was glad with the turnout of volunteers as it shows that the public now is much more aware of the importance of their participation in cleanups, especially in the context of the on-going implementation of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project.

“The number of volunteers who participated this year only proves that Metro Manilans do have an increased sense of awareness and readiness to fulfill their civic duties”, RED Caancan said.

The volunteers this year came from different national government agencies—including the agencies subject of the Writ of Mandamus issued by the Supreme Court—local government units (LGUs), business sector, and civil society organizations.

RED Caancan said that the ICC this year is very timely as it enabled DENR, through its partner organizations and volunteers, to gather much needed data on pollution loading in Manila Bay. The ICC requires volunteers to act as “citizen scientists” and record the trash they have recovered in standardized data forms. The data collected will then be compiled by DENR National Capital Region and presented to Sec. Roy A. Cimatu and the Manila Bay Task Force for reference in crafting plans and programs.

The data will later be submitted to the Ocean Conservancy, the Washington based non-profit organization that started the ICC, for validation and publication.

There were six (6) major clean-up sites for the ICC this year. These are the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA); SM By the Bay and the shores of Gloria Maris inside the CPP Complex in Pasay City; the riverbanks of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and the aplaya or beach area of Baseco in Tondo, Manila which served as the main clean-up site.

The Baseco clean-up is in partnership with the City of Manila.

Gracing the activity are Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair, Senator Cynthia A. Villar; MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim; Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, and Undersecretary for Field Operations, Ground Commander of Manila Bay Task Force and Supervising Undersecretary for Manila Bay Coordinating Office Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna.

In addition, DENR National Capital Region, led the conduct of simultaneous cleanups of a number esteros and creeks in Metro Manila in coordination with the concerned local government units.

These are in the Bangkulasi River in Navotas City; Batasan River in Malabon City; Tunasan River and Sucat-Buli River in Muntinlupa City; Sto. Rosario River, Sta. Ana River, Panday-Paltok River and Pateros River in Pateros; Lower Bicutan Creek in Taguig City; Maricaban Creek in Pasay City; Estero de Tripa de Gallina in Paranaque City; Kalayaan-Kasunduan Creek and Tullahan River (Nova Proper) in Quezon City; Daang Paa Creek in Pasig City; Tumana Creek in Marikina City; and, Lingunan Creek, Veinte Reales Creek, De Castro Creek, Marulas Creek, and Dulong Tangke Creek in Valenzuela City

Last year’s ICC in Metro Manila was able to gather around 7,000 volunteers and collected a total of 5,918 sacks containing 355,071 pieces of trash from all cleanup sites. Topping the type of trash collected are food wrappers, and other plastic pieces.

DENR-NCR hopes to do better this year and recover more trash from Manila Bay.

The ICC is held every third Saturday of September in the Philippines, in keeping with Presidential Proclamation No. 470, series of 2003.

DENR National Capital Region led a simultaneous tree planting activity on Tuesday, 25 June 2019, at Baseco compound in Tondo, Manila and in different Metro Manila-based campuses of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).

The regional office, in partnership with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), and other mandamus agencies and civil society organizations, planted mangrove trees and other salt-tolerant plants in the beach area of Baseco as a phytoremediation measure. This will help improve water quality and contribute to efforts in cleaning and rehabilitating Manila Bay. “Phytoremediation”, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “is the efficient use of plants to remove, detoxify or immobilise environmental contaminants in soil, water or sediments through the natural biological, chemical or physical activities and processes of the plants”. 

Meanwhile, around 6,000 seedlings—composed mainly of indigenous and native species—were planted by students and faculty members of PUP. The tree planting was done in its main campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and in its branches in Parañaque City, San Juan City, Taguig City, and Quezon City.  The plants will not only help improve air quality in the campus but beautify the area and reduce stress to faculty and students.

The activity is the highlight of DENR National Capital Region’s celebration of Philippine Environment Month (PEM) and Philippines Arbor Day (PAD) respectively. The theme of the celebration is “Grow More Trees, Beat Air Pollution” to emphasize the important role of trees in reducing air pollution among other environmental concerns.

DENR National Capital Region Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan hopes that the public will be more involved in planting more trees and help in the care of existing ones. “Congested as it is, Metro Manila will benefit more with increased green spaces”, RED Caancan explained. “More trees would mean improved air and water quality, cooler temperatures, enhanced biodiversity, and increased value of property here in Metro Manila” she added.

According to Breathe Life Network—a UN led global campaign to bring air pollution to safe levels by 2030—the air that we breathe in Metro Manila is “70 percent” above the safe level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5.  PM 2.5 are ultrafine airborne particles that penetrate deep into the lungs when inhaled. These are known to cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and bronchitis, as well as premature death from heart ailments, lung disease, and cancer. Studies have likewise shown that higher PM 2.5 exposure can impair brain development in children. 

The most common source of air pollutants in Metro Manila according to the Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) is “mobile sources” or motor vehicles. Data shows that “88% of air pollution come from emission of

motor vehicles and other engines and equipment that can be moved from one location to another”.

These pollutants, however, could have been absorbed if there were more trees in Metro Manila. Sadly, as the population of the region grow bigger by the year, more land has been converted into housing and infrastructure. As a result, the green spaces of Metro Manila has shrunk in proportion.

“The challenge for us here in Metro Manila”, says RED Caancan, “is finding innovative ways to maximize our existing green spaces. This may be done by planting fast-growing trees that are suited to an urban setting and known to be effective in fighting air and water pollution”. Given our limited space, “we must invest more on green roofs and walls and convert whatever space available to us into pockets of greens”.

PEM is celebrated in June of every year by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 237, s-1998 while PAD is celebrated every 25th of June by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 396, s-2003 as amended.