MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order 35, constituting the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development (IAC-PRUD), will not only rehabilitate the Pasig River, but will also maximize its economic potentials, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar said Tuesday.

“The issuance of Executive Order 35 is like hitting many birds with one stone. It will trigger huge positive impacts to several sectors like housing, transportation and even tourism,” Acuzar said in a statement.

He noted that while EO 35 primarily calls for a full rehabilitation of Pasig River waterways, its implementation will also secure the safety of thousands of informal settler families (ISFs) living along the riverbanks, and promote mixed-use development and tourism that will trigger economic opportunities.

“Malaking bagay po ang activation ng inter-agency council para mas mapapabilis ang ating galaw at maging synchronized ang lahat ng efforts ng mga concerned agencies para sa pagbangon muli ng (The activation of the inter-agency council will be a big factor in fast-tracking and synchronizing the actions and efforts of all concerned agencies for the revival of the) Pasig River,” he said.

Acuzar, chairperson of the IAC-PRUD, said the DHSUD has already laid out initial plans covering pilot areas along several portions of Pasig River in Manila, in coordination with some of the member agencies like Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

Under EO 35, the head of the MMDA will sit as vice chair of the IAC-PRUD.

Meanwhile, the secretaries of the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Tourism (DOT), Transportation (DoTr), Finance (DOF), and Budget and Management (DBM); the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, the general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority; and the chief executive officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) were named as council members. The National Housing Authority will serve as the secretariat.

The IAC-PRUD is primarily tasked to “facilitate and ensure the full rehabilitation of the banks along the Pasig River water system and nearby water systems in order to provide alternative transportation, propel economic opportunities, and boost tourism activities.”

The council is also directed to formulate a Pasig River Urban Development Plan which shall serve as the blueprint for the full rehabilitation of the river with the end view of realizing its full potential for mixed-use development, transportation, recreation, tourism and sustainable human settlement, taking into consideration its historic and cultural value.

It is also ordered to “study, prepare and implement a comprehensive shelter plan for massive relocation of ISFs and other unauthorized or unlawful occupants along the Pasig River banks, including identification of suitable relocation sites; strategies for economic and social integration for ISFs, and long-term solutions to address ongoing migration into the Pasig River banks.” (PNA)