THIS week, we were surprised by an infographic showing that Philippine rivers dominated the list of top rivers in the world that transport plastic to the oceans.
In fact, according to a scientific study released by the publication Ocean Cleanup in the journal Science Advances, more than a fourth of rivers worldwide responsible for 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution are found in the Philippines.
Pasig River is the top producer of plastic pollution in the world.
“The study findings raise extreme concern on the issue of mismanaged plastic wastes in the country and supports the call of the Commission for urgent efforts to solve the plastic crisis by implementing measures to regulate and in turn, halt the production of unnecessary plastics-made straws and stirrers, spoon and fork, and plastic tabo, among others,” the study said.
If you look at the chart, you would see these Philippine rivers in the Top Ten: Pasig River, Tullahan River, Meycauayan River, Pampanga River, Libmanan River, and Rio Grande de Mindanao River. The four rivers are in NCR and Central Luzon; Libmanan is in Camarines Sur and Rio Grande is the second largest river system in Mindanao, located in the central and eastern part of that island.
So it is said, of course, these are indeed one of the most polluted rivers in the world. That’s them. That’s the Pinoy.
Oh Philippines, with 466 out of 1,656 rivers of the world dumping more than 356,371 metric tons of plastic wastes annually.
The world’s most polluting river when it comes to plastics is the 27-kilometer Pasig River which runs through Metro Manila, accounting for 63,000 tons of plastic entering oceans from rivers per year.
But of course. Until we reach the Number Ten. Agno River. Hey, that’s us! How can we be included? We’re not as dirty as Manila. Maybe this is unfair.
How can Agno be included, we now ask. Well, not really shocking if we realize that Agno is the third largest river system after the Cagayan River and Pampanga River systems. But Cagayan was not included in the study as among the most polluted. Well, it is the 17th of the 18 rivers in the Philippines included among the Top 50 plastic polluting rivers in the country.
But Agno River in the Top Ten is shocking, but sobering too.
The Agno is the largest Philippine river in terms of water discharge, draining around 6.6 cubic kilometers of freshwater into Lingayen Gulf, or almost 70 percent of the total freshwater input into the gulf.
The headwaters of Agno River are at the slopes of Mount Data, among others.
After Mt. Data, it traverses Buguias, Kabayan, Bokod and Itogon in Benguet. And then it passes 17 towns of Pangasinan before it exits the sea through Lingayen. So Pangasinan is to be blamed? But of course again.
We beg to differ. Before it leaves Benguet, it also passes through Baguio so we are not entirely innocent.
The point is before we blame the study, let us blame ourselves.
Maybe we are indeed mindless plastic polluters.
The study suggested that coastal countries like the Philippines have a relatively high probability of plastic entering the ocean due to various factors, including short distances from land-based sources to rivers, and much shorter distances to oceans.
Plastic also flows more easily into rivers from paved urban areas than it does in rivers from forests, and travels farther in rainy climates than dry ones. The researchers also considered for the study the proximity of landfills and dumpsites to river banks, finding out that those within 10 kilometers of rivers are likely to spill into them.
So these things should be considered. Sometimes we have to think about where we dump our plastics. Isn’t it in Pangasinan? So maybe we are just expediting the flow of plastic by using our garbage trucks to bring our waste to Pangasinan.
Maybe we should also investigate if the dumping indeed does not escape into the rivers.
And initially let us think before the garbage escapes our homes. Stop using plastic in your personal capacities.