Environmentalists want Baguio, Benguet piggeries closed to save Balili river
BAGUIO CITY — A multi-sectoral group formed to save the biggest river system in Baguio and Benguet is eyeing the closure of piggeries near the river, a local environment official said Friday.
Aside from the indiscriminate dumping of waste by a rapidly increasing city populace, the piggeries along the Balili River have been blamed for the filthy state of the once pristine waterway.
Cordelia Lacsamana, head of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO), which is part of the coalition called Balili River System Coalition, said solutions are now being threshed out on the problem of discharge of manure and other wastes from piggeries along waterways that lead to Balili River.
Lacsamana said a meeting with some owners of about 100 piggeries in Baguio City is set on Aug. 2 for this purpose.
“There are about 100 piggeries with about 1,000 pig heads (in the city),” Lacsamana noted.
The forum was set together with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Cordillera.
EMB Regional Director Reynaldo Digamo had earlier written the city government about its observations on the condition of the Balili River.
The letter said one reason for the river’s pollution was that “backyard piggeries are allowed in urban areas polluting the Balili/ Bued River”.
The Balili River stretches from Kilometer 3 in La Trinidad, Benguet to Bued River in Baguio City, down to La Union province as the Naguilian River.
It has various waterway tributaries in the city, where the piggeries were discovered.
At the weekly “Talakayan sa city environment code” forum of Radyo Pilipinas-Baguio and the Baguio Regreening Movement (BRM) on Thursday, Lacsamana said the solutions forum on Aug. 2 is aimed at informing the piggery owners of the city’s policy on piggeries and existing laws.
For years, the BRSC has been doing measures to revive the river, which, based on studies conducted by the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB), Saint Louis University (BSU), and Benguet State University (BSU), was described as “biologically dead”.
In the 1990’s, the city government was charged by the local government of La Trinidad for polluting the Balili River, which is within the town’s jurisdiction.
Actions were initiated to address the problem leading to the creation of the “Salaknib ti Waig” (Saving the river) program by the government and non-government organizations in Baguio and Benguet.
Describing the problem on the Balili River as “very serious”, Lacsamana said much has to be done to save the river, including placing plants along its banks.
In a late afternoon press conference on Wednesday, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said “piggeries and poultry are prohibited in highly-urbanized cities”, especially now that these have been polluting the river. (PNA)