SOME 46 groups under the Adopt an Estero Program (AEP) including villages in La Trinidad, Benguet signed up a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to strengthen clean-up at the Balili River.

The program is considered a collaborative undertaking within the communities in partnership with the local government unit, and other concern agencies.

The MOA signing was held April 4 with La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda, Vice Mayor Joey Marrero and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Environment Management Bureau (EMB) regional director Reynaldo Digamo.

Salda said without the participation of the community and Baguio City, the goal to reach the full rehabilitation of the ailing river by 2030 cannot be achieved.

“The Balili River is everybody’s concern”, the mayor said.

The MOA between municipality of La Trinidad, DENR and organizations acknowledge the general undertakings of both parties to have a comprehensive program intended to maintain acceptable water quality.

“The parties acknowledge that some of the water bodies in the Cordillera region like elsewhere in the country have reached a deteriorated condition which the communities, even with government’s help can no longer address effectively without help from non-government sectors,” said the MOA.

Under the pact, parties will coordinate with each other during the term of the agreement and participate in regular planning and implementation meetings with the view of reviewing and evaluating the implementation of the program, and exploring the possible extension of the program to other sites.

The clean-up drive for the Balili River remains a quarterly activity every year during March, June, September and November.

Digamo appreciates the municipality as far as the AEP is concern and encouraged the valley to sustain and level up its efforts.

Within the undertaking, all adopters and parties concern must submit quarterly status report of the implementation to the Menro and EMB.

Senior citizens were observed to be the main volunteers and adopters joining the AEP of the Balili River.

Puguis Women Federation president Sonia Erico said their organization comprised of 200 members includes retired teachers, single parents, and retirees ages 70 years old cleaning the Balili River.

Menro EMS I Lester Madino urged the youth to participate and joined the program.

According to World Environment Protection Asia, more concerned stakeholders joined the lined up activities for this year considering the successful conduct of the same event in the city last year, thus, the increase in the number of activities and the participants from the agriculture sector.

He admitted that for a number of years, the local government was not able to effectively and efficiently attend to the needs of the concerned agriculture industry stakeholders because of the wrong perception that agriculture is not suitable in an urban center like the city but they were able to prove them wrong, thus, the existence of the agri-tourism fair in the city. (Dexter See)