By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Reiterating the need for a change in behavior in relation to the dumping of garbage into the river as essential to the revitalization of Balili, Dr. Raymundo D. Rovillos, the new chancellor of the University of the Philippines Baguio, also emphasized the importance of the local government’s implementation of a working garbage disposal and sewer system.
Rovillos explained that while behavioral change is crucial to put a stop to the dumping of waste into the river a working garbage and sewer management system and infrastructure to back it up must be put in place.
He added that there should be a working collection and disposal system and facility to ensure proper waste management.
He underscored that the main pollutants are household and piggery waste. He said that through the research they conducted they found out that apart from the dumping of garbage, many households in the city down to La Trinidad are directly draining their sewage and piggery wastes into the Balili River.
He further said the local government can start with the strict implementation of existing solid waste management laws and garbage disposal system. He pointed out that the local government should give priority to barangays with high incidence of dumping waste into the river.
“The state of the river (Balili River) reflects the state of the city (Baguio),” he said as he shared the results of the recently completed research on the history of Balili.
He explained that the said research is part of UP Baguio’s commitment to the Balili River System Revitalization Coalition. He headed the historical research and was completed with the help of history students in the University of the Philippines Baguio.
He explained that the research went as far as the pre colonial period when the water in the river was pristine. He shared that up to the 1950s the Ibaloi people then could still drink the water from the river.
Rovillos pointed out that based on the pollution of the river started in the 1960s. He said the deterioration of the river system worsened with the urbanization of Baguio when immigrants came in throngs to the city.
“Human activity have a direct effect to the biodiversity not just of the river but of the whole environment. The river is our barometer,” Rovillos said.
He stressed that there is still hope for Balili to be revived saying that even Pasig River which is in a worst state has gained significant changes. He explained that unlike Pasig, Balili is not contaminated with toxic chemical wastes.
“We may not be able to bring back Balili’s pristine waters like in the pre colonial period but we can bring it back to life,” he said. # nordis.net