The Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) has “hit the ground running” after being tapped as head of the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development (IAC-PRUD) by virtue of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order 35.
According to an agency news release on Friday, Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar and other key DHSUD officials have started inspecting key areas along the Pasig River,and subsequently laid out plans on how to implement the President’s order which was signed on July 25.
Acuzar initially checked portions of the historical river in Manila, particularly at the back of the Central Post Office, which is being eyed as pilot area for mixed-use development and tourism spot, and at the Parola Compound in Tondo for the affected informal settler families (ISFs).
“We already have plans, and we will soon present it to the Office of the President and before the council for approval,” Acuzar said.
The DHSUD said Acuzar has already met with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair 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.
Under EO 35, the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation, Department of Finance and Department of Budget and Management; the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard and general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority; and the chief executive officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority were named as council members.
The National Housing Authority will serve as the secretariat.
The IAC-PRUD is tasked primarily 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.”
EO 35 directs the council to formulate a Pasig River Urban Development Plan which shall serve as the blueprint for the full rehabilitation of the river with the endview 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 also tasked the council to “study, prepare and implement a comprehensive shelter plan” for massive relocation of ISFs 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 riverbanks.
The EO authorizes the IAC-PRUD to “accept grants, contributions, donations, endowments, bequests, or gifts in cash or in kind” from local and foreign sources in support of the formulation and implementation of the Pasig River Urban Development Plan, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations.
To monitor the progress of the rehabilitation, the IAC-PRUD is directed to submit to the Office of the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, a quarterly status report. (PNA)