San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which has taken for itself the gargantuan task of cleaning up major river systems in and around Metro Manila, reported that its cleanup of the 15-kilometer San Juan River, a main tributary of the Pasig River, is well underway, with over 90,000 metric tons of silt and solid waste already extracted.

SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang, said the effort, which is part of SMC’s much larger Pasig River cleanup initiative, has successfully removed waste that have been choking different sections of the river that spans the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Quezon city.

Since work commenced last October, Ang said that SMC’s crews have cleaned up a total of 3.1 kilometers, covering sections of the river from Sta. Mesa to Sta. Ana, San Juan to Mandaluyong, and from Dona Imelda to Tatalon in Quezon City.

From just 0.5 to 1.5 meters, dredged areas now have depths of 2.5 to four meters, enabling improved water flow and the carriage of a higher volume of floodwaters. The effort has also resulted in the widening of portions of the river that were partially blocked by stockpiled materials from construction activities.

Ang said that its San Juan River cleanup, which it is undertaking with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and local government units (LGU), is crucial to maintaining the gains that SMC has already made in cleaning up the Pasig River.

It is not the first time that SMC has cleaned up the San Juan River. In previous years, even before the company launched its major river rehabilitation advocacy, SMC had funded the reconstruction of the San Juan River bridge or Pinaglabanan Bridge and cleanup of the San Juan River, as part of its Skyway Stage 3 project.

The company also extended the scope of that initial effort to cover the Tatalon and Talayan areas in Quezon City, which was prone to flooding during heavy rain.

In 2021, SMC also extracted some 11,850 tons of waste from the mouth of the San Juan River, when its Pasic River rehab effort reached the San Juan junction.

Pasig River Cleanup

The initiative is part of SMC’s ongoing effort to clean up the Pasig River, in partnership with the national and local governments, to help mitigate flooding in major Metro Manila cities and improve the water quality and navigability of the historic but long-polluted river.

From July 2021 to February 2023, Ang said that SMC has already removed over one million metric tons of silt and waste from various sections of the Pasig River that have become too shallow, following years of silt and solid waste buildup.

These include the mouth of the river in Manila Bay, the Laguna Lake area, and the junctions of the Marikina and San Juan rivers.

From depths of just 1 to 3 meters at the start of the project, critical sections of the Pasig River now measure five to six-meters deep, allowing for the improved flow of more floodwaters out to the Manila Bay during the rainy season.

SMC’s first massive river rehabilitation and flood mitigation initiative was launched in 2020, and was targeted at cleaning up the Tullahan River. The project was completed in 2022 and removed over 1.12 million tons of silt and solid waste from an 11-kilometer expanse.

The initiative has resulted to better flood mitigation in flood-prone areas in Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela, and Caloocan.

Recently, SMC together with the DENR and the provincial and local governments of Bulacan, also started cleanup efforts for major river systems in the province, which is also known to be prone to flood.