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1st Philippine International River Summit kicks off in Iloilo

By Perla G. Lena

ILOILO CITY, May 30 – Experts, scientists, policy makers, river administrators and practitioners converged starting Wednesday here at this highly urbanized city of Iloilo for the 1st Philippine International River Summit, which serves as a “global platform for action on various environmental, economic and social issues on helping rivers and river basins.”

Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr, executive director of the River Basin Control Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the activity will be a venue to “identify challenges, opportunities, issues, concerns and best practices towards effective management and sustainable development of rivers, particularly focusing on rivers in cities or in urban centers.”

In his message during the opening of the event, Tuddao emphasized the need for a sustained effort and heightened public awareness on various river concerns, updated science-based solution and corresponding action to keep the country abreast on current global approaches and initiatives.

The river summit is an offshoot of the city’s winning the gold award in the Most Liveable Cities (LivCom) 2010 in Maryland, USA, for its initiatives on reviving the dying Iloilo River.

Some of the initiatives will be showcased by the city government during study tours organized by the group of tour guides in Iloilo to cap the three-day summit.

The summit, which anchors on the theme "My River, My Life," was able to generate the support of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Local Government for Sustainability, Rivers of the World Foundation (ROW, USA) and the CITYNET. It is being co-organized by the DENR.

The summit has several plenary sessions, the results of which will be presented before President Benigno S. Aquino III on June 1.

Wednesday’s opening showed Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog receiving a position paper from the Save Iloilo River Environmental Network, a group of militant groups, containing their recommendations on the ongoing revival of the river.

“We gave everybody the venue to air whatever statement that they have especially for the revival of the river,” he said.

Felix Tiu, chairman of the summit’s finance committee and also of the city government’s Trade and Investments Board, estimated the number of delegates during the first day at almost 1,000 to include foreign, national and local participants.

He said that the number is overwhelming — a sign that Filipinos and other stakeholders are taking cognizance of the issues affecting rivers. (PNA) DCT/LAM/ajp/PGL/vlo

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