Speech of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in the Ceremonial Opening of the “Pasig Bigyang Buhay Muli”: Pasig River Urban Development Showcase Area

Speeches 17 January 2024

Thank you to our ES – please, please take your seats – for your kind introduction.

We have here all the luminaries in government, all the leadership of government is practically here led, of course, by the Senate President, our Senate President Migz Zubiri.

The, and of course the proponent of this very ambitious, but certainly worthwhile project, the DHSUD Secretary, Secretary Jerry Acuzar. All the cabinet secretaries that are here, the members of the Philippine Senate that are present with us today – magaling ito si Jerry talagang kinuha n’ya lahat ng kailangan n’ya nandito lahat na-corner kayong lahat.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Romando Artes, the City Mayor of Manila, Manila Mayor Ma. Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan. Andito rin po ang ating kaibigan na dating Senate President, Senate President Manny Villar at syempre hindi makumpleto lalong-lalo na dito sa proyektong ating binubuksan ngayon, ang ating First Lady, First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos.

My fellow workers in government, all our distinguished guests, our partners in the private sector without whom we could not put this project together. At least, not in the scale that we would have liked to, but their assistance and their continuing generosity and love of country has shown once again, and that they have become active participants in what we are going to do with the Pasig River Development Project.

The – my fellow workers in government, all our distinguished guests and I have to say, there are many distinguished guests with us here this evening, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!

No river in our country holds as great a – cultural and historical significance as Pasig River. Its flow has not only shaped the contours of our nation’s capital, but the economic landscape of a booming metropolis as well.

As the country’s first nautical expressway, it brought people together and their produce to its tributaries, along whose bank settlements grew and prospered.

It is a witness to the ebb and flow of our history, transporting heroes during the birth of the Republic, the courage of patriots whose spirit was never broken in the watery dungeons of Fort Santiago.

After the end of the country’s colonial period, the symbol of executive power was housed along its banks. For a river that has given us so much, we have given back too little.

Our stewardship of this national asset leaves much to be desired. A national deficit, which we have never properly erased.

I am personally a witness to this.

Isa po akong Anak ng Pasig. Bago po ako’y pumasok sa larangan ng Serbisyo Publika, nandiyan na ang Bongbong Marcos na Batang Pasig. I grew up by the Pasig River.

Today, I work by the Pasig River, I live by the Pasig River, I shuttle between the two – my work place and my residence, by boat, through the Pasig River.

So, when it comes to knowing the state of Pasig River, I do not merely rely on statistics reported, but by sight and smell—on my morning and evening commutes.

Mga kaibigan ko, hindi tayo rito, para tayo mapag-usapan. We are not here to wax nostalgic to the past or wax poetic of the beauty it once was. Rather, we are here to blaze a path forward for this national asset.

We are here to reject the defeatist view that the Pasig River is beyond redemption.

We are here to consecrate ourselves to the mission of transforming Pasig River to what it is supposed to be:

A living river of multiple benefits for the multitude, featuring safe walkways and bikeways along its banks, a green corridor that will serve as lungs for our city’s needs, a string of parks for communities nearby.

Along the 25-kilometer stretch will judiciously sprout commercial enterprises, run by the best stewards and strongest stakeholders of the river’s development— the people themselves.

We envision civic spaces where our children will play, our seniors will relax, families will exercise, artists can showcase their talents, and the creative can display their wares.

We want it to be a permanent exhibit area of green technology that works—from solar lights to rain harvesting facilities—sustainable practices like urban gardens.

We will also maximize this ready-to-use but underutilized maritime highway, by deploying more ferry boats and stations, because, if you build them, the riders will come.

The transformation we would like to see in Pasig River are not cosmetic in nature.

We will not paper over the river’s fundamental problems, nor whitewash its grime while leaving the old and rotten still there.

We do not want a river that is instantly made picturesque by coats of paint. We want a river whose transformation sinks to its very bottom.

This begins by cleaning up the river and some solutions are found upstream, because wastes disposed far from the Pasig River end up in the Pasig River, funneled through waterways which have become sewers.

As the threat of climate change looms, we must save the poor and vulnerable living along its banks from the ravages of frequent and fiercer typhoons by transferring them to better homes, which they deserve.

Make no mistake about it. It will be a people-centered and community-driven development with ideas crowdsourced from experts, and carried out with political will.

We may never restore this river back to its pre-colonial pristine condition, but we can revive it to serve the present while preserving it for the future.

We can stop it from being a petri dish of toxins and make it instead an incubator of progress and of best environmental practices.

In some ways, the fate of the Pasig River mirrors that of our country and of people. Both contain much untapped potential; both move forward persistently, despite years of neglect.

That is why we have set into operation the “Pasig Bigyang Buhay Muli.” It is not a rebranding of the old, but a revving up of new and fresh ideas.

Through Executive Order 35, the Inter-Agency Council for the Pasig River Urban Development has been established and has been activated, with both the DHSUD and the MMDA tasked to be at the helm.

Kasama sa kanilang mandato ang abot-kayang pabahay para doon sa mga nag-a-alsa balutan na tuwing may nagbabadyang bagyo. Kaya inuutos ko kay Secretary Jerry Acuzar ng DHSUD ang pabahay na tumutugon sa lahat ng antas ng pinansyal ng kakayahan.

Gagawin natin ito sapagkat tama lang na kung sino ang malapit sa ilog, ang siyang unang dapat mabibiyayaan.

Narito po tayo ngayon sa Kilometer Zero ng ating paglalakbay para makamtan natin ang minimithing buhay at masiglang Ilog ng Pasig.

Hindi po ito ningas cogon na kampanya o flavor of the month lang. This will be pursued relentlessly. Kaya’t ano ba naman ang bago rito? Tutukan ninyo at ang inyong Pangulo, at syempre ang talagang lead proponent nito ang ating First Lady.

There will be scheduled milestones that will be strictly met from government agencies who are under orders to submit progress reports. To local government units along Pasig River, to MMDA, DILG and to DHSUD:

I asked for a quarterly and yearly report submitted to my office because I want to see this prototype of redevelopment of Pasig River—right here, right now—produced in sustainable speed and sustainable focus up to its final and logical conclusion.

I have been advised that I should be cautious from linking – I should be cautious about linking the fate of this river to my political fortunes, that I refrain from upholding as an icon of our Bagong Pilipinas drive this project that we are opening today because it could be dangerous – it could be a dangerous barometer should this project fail.

But, I will not be deterred from placing a big bet on this endeavor because the presidency is all about attaining the grand, and not wasting mandates
on the petty.

Kagaya ng laging pinapaala sa akin – ng ating butihing Kalihim ng DHSUD, “Go Big, or Go Home.” So, you may expect – you do not expect any halfhearted commitments not from this President.

In everything I do, I am all fully in.

Kagaya ng ating nabanggit, meron din po kasi tayong in-house advocate ng Pasig River sa aming pamilya – ang ating First Lady. She has been a passionate champion of this river’s revival, who has been quietly doing the spadework as is her way on this project.

Her interest has been sparked as a citizen who has the river as the front yard and backyard of her present home.

Alam ko naman na mahabang pakiki-baka ito. Mahabang panahon ang kinakailangan ilaan dito. Decades of neglect cannot be undone in months.

Kaya naman hindi namin ginagawa ito para sa kapakanan ng kasalukuyang administrasyon.

Ito po ay para sa susunod na mga henerasyon, na hari nawa ang proyektong ating mai-iwan ay siyang ehemplong na [dapat sundan.]

At kapag nangyari iyan, ang Anak ng Pasig na ito ay lilisan na may baong ngiti at saya dahil ang ilog ng ating kabataan ay masasalin sa susunod na salin-lahi na taglay ng pagbabago.

Mga kababayan, ang panimula ng pagbabago sa bahaging ito ng Ilog Pasig ay bahagi ng itinatatag nating Bagong Pilipinas. May kaayusan at kalinisan, may kaginhawahan at kasaganahang paparating para sa lahat.

Maraming salamat sa inyo. Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat at mabuhay ang ating bagong proyekto na inaayos at linilinis at pinapaganda ang ating minamahal na Pasig River.

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