Organizing River Watch Teams
Together with their partners, the Sagip Ilog project leaders organized the River Watch Teams. Essentially, the River Watch Teams are comprised of associations of families living along and near the river. Each team consists of fifteen persons who oversee the cleanliness of their designated areas, typicallythat where they reside.
The first batch of 150 volunteers from the riverside communities underwent values re-formation and was educated on the importance and benefits of a clean river. They formed the first ten River Watch Teams that were inducted the day that Sagip Ilog was launched. They were issued certified identification cards and became the guardians of river cleanliness of their respective areas or communities. They were tasked to conduct a weekly cleanup of their areas and were authorized to accost anyone they catch throwing anything into the river.
Since the river flows through neighboring towns and cities that, it was necessary to gain the participation of volunteers from these areas that shared the river with Las Piñas. With assistance from the CFC-Oikos volunteer couples, the River Watch Team project coordinator reached out to Barangay San Dionisio in the neighboring city of Parañaque and the town of Bacoor in Cavite province. Ten River Watch Teams from Parañaque and another ten teams from Bacoor were formed. They were inducted in December 2004.
Over a period of eight years, the number of River Watch Teams has grown to 260, 174 are based within the borders of Las Piñas, while there are 55 in Cavite and 31 in Parañaque. There are currently 3,120 trained and active volunteers.
Partnering with the Local Government
The City Government laid out a system of pre-set days where simple garbage collection schedules were predictably followed. Where the larger trucks could not penetrate dense settlements, small wooden push-carts were deployed to collect garbage to be brought to depot areas.
The predictability of collection became the main argument against the lazy and uncaring attitude of simply turning the river into a garbage chute. One of the reasons behind this efficiency is good governance. Rather than engage in sub-contracting, the Las Piñas city government took the bold step of purchasing its own garbage compactor and dump trucks in 1996. Since then, it has mobilized 1,000 part-time street sweepers, 230 full-time garbage collection personnel, fifty-nine compactor trucks and four open dump trucks. They work day and night, conducting a total of ninety trips daily. Garbage collection along the main roads is done twice daily. Inside the 200 private villages, garbage is regularly collected twice a week.
This efficiency earned Las Piñas the “Clean and Green Hall of Fame” Award.