QUEZON CITY – Prime movers of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s Annual Million Tree Challenge and the Million Trees Foundation, Inc. (MTFI) have lauded San Miguel Corporation President and COO Ramon S. Ang for his various projects to promote environmental protection and rehabilitation.

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“The projects that SMC through the leadership of Mr. Ramon S. Ang are undertaking to address environmental problems are both commendatory and worth emulating,” MWSS Chairman and OIC Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco.

Velasco made the statement in reaction to a report that SMC intends to plant close to 200,000 mangroves along the Bulacan coastlines as part of its flood mitigation plan.

SMC’s comprehensive plan also includes the cleaning, dredging, and widening of major tributaries in the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system of Bulacan.

Bulacan is site of the new Manila international airport under SMC’s Aero City franchise that is set to break ground in the second quarter of the year. SMC’s CSR projects on environmental protection and rehabilitation range from coastal clean-up,river rehabilitation, tree-planting and reforestation. It is undertaking the clean-up of the Tullahan-Tinajeros river system Sectors 1-3 that stretches from Manila Bay in Navotas to the Tinajeros Bridge in Malabon. The Department of Public Works and Highways has likewise approved the extension of dredging the river-system to include Sectors 4 and 5 that will run from Tinajeros Bridge to Potrero in Malabon and Valenzuela. Aside from cleaning the river system of solid waste, work will include increasing the depth and widening portions of the river. Last year, no heavy flooding was reported in the flood-prone areas in Malabon and Navotas because of the dredging project of SMC that resulted in more flood waters flowing into the river.SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang said SMC is fully committed to its advocacy of cleaning up major rivers and help with flood mitigation.

“We are making all the necessary preparations now to move into the next phase of our river cleanup and flood management initiative. We’re investing in new equipment, and hiring more people,” Ang said.

SMC also intends to dredge the Pasig River as part of its proposed Pasig River Expressway project.

Meanwhile, SMC subsidiary Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation is an active partner agency of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in the latter’s Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC) project. The AMTC is an initiative of the MWSS Corporate Office under Administrator PDDG Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret).

It is a five-year watershed rehabilitation project to rehabilitate seven critical watersheds essential to water supply in Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces of Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan through the planting of one million trees annually.Luzon Clean Water has planted and reforested portions of the Ipo Dam watershed, one of the watersheds identified by MWSS that needed immediate rehabilitation and one of the beneficiaries of the AMTC.

Concerted efforts among government, private sector, and civic organizations have resulted in the increase of forest cover at the Ipo watershed by 87 percent in 2019. This was disclosed during the AMTC partners’ meeting and pledging session held last month at the MWSS.

In the same meeting, the Million Tree Foundation, Inc. was also introduced to the AMTC partner stakeholders. The Foundation is headed by publisher, book author and communications specialist Melandrew Velasco who conceptualized the noble MWSS project even as he stressed that MTFI will ensure the continuity and sustainability of the AMTC.

Million Trees Foundation aims to preserve and restore the ecosystem functions of watersheds nationwide aside from the watershed beneficiaries of AMTC. The River Basin Control Office of DENR has identified 142 critical watersheds in the Philippines.

The rehabilitation of the watersheds will be patterned after the La Mesa dam rehabilitation project. Its objectives also include the conduct of tree-planting activities; awareness campaign in support of the government’s reforestation program and CSR environment projects of private corporations; establishment of a data bank on statistics relevant to the foundation’s activities; and introduction of automation and modern-technology in tree-planting.