The City Government of Valenzuela has recently created a task force that will apprehend polluters of rivers and creeks in the city.
As provided for in the Ordinance No. 133, Series of 2014 passed by the City Council on Monday, May 26, 214, the Bantay Ilog will enforce all local ordinances and national laws on the protection of rivers and other waterways, such as the Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act.
The new deputized law enforcement group replaces the previous Environmental Police, which used to apprehend violators of environmental laws. The Bantay Ilog’s responsibilities cover only laws on the protection of bodies of water.
Councilor Lailanie Nolasco, chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment and one of the authors of the ordinance, said the former Environmental Police was able to watch over the land environment only, thus the need for another law enforcement group that focuses on bodies of water.
Other environmental laws not related to waterways are enforced by the Task Force Disiplina, another local deputized law enforcement group.
Eight inspectors and 16 aides have been appointed by Valenzuela City Mayor REX Gatchalian to form the Bantay Ilog personnel. Aboard motorized boats, these river marshals will patrol along five rivers −the Polo River, the Coloong River, the Santolan River, the Longos River, and the Lingahan River− and two creeks −the Lingunan-Veinte Reales Creek and the Canumay Creek.
Among the task force’s responsibilities is apprehending those who dump wastes in waterways.
Individual illegal dumpers will be fined by the Bantay Ilog with Php 1,000 on the first offense; Php 3,000 on the second offense; Php 5,000 on the third offense.
Together with the City Environmental and Natural Resources Office, Office of the Building Official, and the Task Force Disiplina, the Bantay Ilog will also inspect establishments in the city that are suspects of violating relevant environmental laws.
If found guilty, a business owner would pay Php 1,000 for the first offense; PhP 7,000 for the second offense; and Php 10,000 for the third and succeeding offenses.
Mayor REX said the creation of the task force is as much a natural environment preservation measure as a flood-control strategy.
“The heavy flooding the city experiences during rainy days is not only due to its low-lying topography but due to clogged waterways, too,” said Mayor REX. “Though our Flood Control Division regularly cleans these waterways, residents should also do their share of the work– by following the law.”
Besides enforcing the law, the Bantay Ilog will also conduct public awareness campaigns on river preservation.
The city government has also recently acquired four backhoes aboard barges which the Flood Control Division uses to dredge wastes and silt from rivers and creeks.
The City Accounting office has reported that the eight Bantay Ilog patrol boats cost Php 926,000; the four backhoes, Php 2,580, 800; and the four barges, Php 2,340,000.