AT least 10 esteros and creeks in the metropolis are virtually “untouchables” to the intensified cleanup drive of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) dubbed as “Estero Blitz.”
This, according to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, is because of the mushrooming of informal settler families in those waterways.
He lamented that the agency’s heavy equipment used in its declogging operations could not access the said creeks and esteros because they are being blocked by the shanties of informal settlers.
“Hindi talaga namin malinis dahil hindi nga makapasok ang mga gamit namin doon dahil sa yung mga bahay ng mga [We cannot clean these creeks because the shanties of the] informal settlers nakalagay na mismo sa gitna ng daluyang tubig [are built within the waterways],” Tolentino said.
He added that the shanties cause delays and major obstacles in the agency’s effort to clean up these esteros.
“Ito yung isa sa mga dahilan kaya bumabaha agad kasi nakakapalinis lang kami sa tabi, yung sa [This is also the reason why we are cleaning only the] periphery lang at hindi sa gitna mismo [and not the entire waterways],” he added.
Tolentino identified the 10 waterways as the Estero de Maypajo from Rizal Avenue to Estero de Sunog Apog with a length of 1.2 kilometers, Estero de Valencia from Railroad track to G. Tuazon with a length of 1.8 kilometers, Estero de Quiapo from Soler to Hidalgo Street and Arlegui to the Quiapo pumping station (600 meters).
Also “untouchable” are Estero de Sampaloc from Legarda to Lacson (200 meters), Estero de Alix, from Legarda to Reten Street (700 meters), Estero de Pandacan from Junction (Tripa de Gallina) to Quirino Avenue (1.2 kilometers), Estero Santa Clara from Delpan to Santa Clara pumping station (800 meters).
Also included were Estero de Magdalena from Soler Street to Bambang (1.9 kilometers), Estero de San Lazaro from Antipolo to Estero dela Reina (2.3 kilometers and Estero dela Reina from Pritil to Escolta pumping station (2.1 kilometers).
Based on the MMDA statistics, at least 1, 415 informal settler families were living along Estero de Maypajo, 258 along Estero de Valencia, 366 along Estero de Quiapo and 62 along Estero de Sampaloc.
Tolentino said squatter relocation is the long-term solution to the problem.
Ritchie A. Horario