Biz men, guardians join hands to oversee river care

By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Environmentalists concerned over the well-being of the Naga River will find new allies in some local businessmen here who will join together to oversee the stricter enforcement of laws and regulation regarding the protection and preservation of the surroundings and other natural resources. The new alliance, however, has yet to be launched with Mayor John G. Bongat during the celebration of the Naga River Day on March 11, this year. Already being eyed as partners in the preservation and upkeep of the storied river is a group of entrepreneurs to be known as Naga River Industry Association (NRIA) whose business establishments are located within the coverage area of the city’s 11 barangays whose boundaries lie within the river line. Christopher Jhun Zantua, program coordinator and officer-in-charge of socio-cultural division of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, said the concept of tapping the businessmen for their support to protect and take care of the Naga River is outlined in the city government’s Adopt-a-Guardian Program wherein each of them is invited to sponsor a minimum of 5 Salvar Salog guardians whose task is to watch over the body of water against littering and other forms of unpleasant practices and/or activities in violation of existing local and national environmental laws. On March 8, this year, the guardians will undergo training and deputation workshop with ENRO, Solid Waste Management Office, and the Task Force: COMET as facilitators. Based on the program’s concept paper, the businessmen, whose alliance with the city government will be officially organized on Saturday at Eurotel-Centro, will serve as the guardians’ benefactors who will provide financial support as part of their corporate social responsibility and procure as well the guardians’ uniforms printed with donor businessman’s company logo. Initially, the City ENRO has identified 20 hoteliers, mall owners and restaurateurs, school presidents, bankers, and drug store operators who will meet with Mayor Bongat on Saturday during the guardians’ oath-taking and deputation which is a part of the Naga River Day celebrations. The partnership between the city government and the NRIA Salvar Salog Guardians will also give way to the implementation of the following activities: quarterly monitoring of the river’s water quality, setting up of concrete boxes for flowering plants along the river, encouraging more partners for this specific project, and continuous holding of beautification projects along the Naga River. The formation of NRIA and the SSG, with their corresponding assignment of roles, is based on City Ordinance 2003-013 sponsored by City Councilor Simeon F. Adan which mandates the city government to establish a group of vigilant caretakers tasked to conduct environment care. NRIA and SSG are also mandated to enforce all local ordinances and national laws on the protection of rivers and other waterways as provided for by RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.