Manila, Philippines – “So, what will happen if the government has more revenue because the `esteros’ are clean?“ asked Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) chairperson Gina Lopez in an interview with MB Research.
The PRRC chief herself offered an enticing answer: “Then, it will have more money to spend for social services to help the people.“
Lopez showed MB Research a 20-year savings forecast, should PRRC’s river rehabilitation programs and strategies under her administration be implemented persistently.
The simple benefit calculation covered potential savings in terms of land value, recreation, household maintenance and repair, and health.
The case in point was Estero de Paco, the flagship model of PRRC’s actual rehabilitation efforts.
Research revealed that in every flooding incidence in the area, an affected household spends an average of P3,500 for temporary transfer of location, repair, cleanup, and income loss due to failure to report for work.
Estero de Paco, which has 1,770 affected households given oneyear rainfall intensity, will have to spend P6 million a year, or more or less P120 million worth of savings in 20 years.
A PRRC pre-survey questionnaire administered to 6,270 households living within 200 meters of Estero de Paco revealed that each household can save about P180 monthly from not having to visit recreational places. This means households can save up to P13.5 million a year, or at least P270 million in 20 years.
The same survey concluded that there has been a significant improvement in health among Estero de Paco residents since the start of the rehabilitation drive. From a monthly cost of P2,659 intended for medication and hospitalization, majority of the respondents only have to allocate P1,840 for monthly savings of P819.00. This significant difference translates to at least R49 million worth of annual savings.
In simple terms, an average household that saves money from temporary maintenance, recreation and health can have almost P54,000 annual savings an amount already good for starting a small business, like a sari-sari store, or for financing a four-year college education.
In terms of average land value, residential and commercial areas that have an average land size of 50 square meters can save at least P42 million in 20 years.
On the other hand, taking into account increases in land and real estate taxes, Lopez said that the government’s estimated total savings in the same span will total to at least P1.3 billion.
If succeeding administrations will continue to adapt President Aquino’s budget allocation to strengthen public institutions, as he stated in his 2013 Budget Message, then, with the potential savings of at least P1.3 billion in 20 years, the government can continuously implement either the Capacity Building Program among local government units, or the Performance Challenge Fund program.
The said programs aim to improve general public administration, accountability and transparency through rewards, and citizen participation. (TO BE CONCLUDED)