DENR Releases Guidelines for ‘Gawad Taga-ilog: Search for the Most Improved Estero’

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released the guidelines and criteria for judging for Gawad Taga-ilog (GTI): Search for the Most Improved Estero, an annual environmental competition among local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Now in its third year, GTI seeks to recognize the most improved esteros or waterways in Metro Manila and honor their respective barangays for their efforts.

During the launch of GTI 3.0 held in Quezon City last Nov. 15, the DENR announced the guidelines and criteria for judging as it urged barangays in all 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila to nominate their chosen estero.

In the same event, OIC Assistant Secretary for Field Operations – Luzon and Visayas Gilbert C. Gonzales commended the DENR-NCR for recognizing the efforts of Metro Manila LGUs in addressing pollution in waterways through the GTI initiative.

“For the last two years, the DENR-NCR has been successful in encouraging the LGUs and other sectors to join us in addressing waste management through GTI. We aim that this will continue, and we can be witnesses on how our partners join forces with us in every little way that they’re doing,” Gonzales said.

Under the guidelines, all barangays in Metro Manila are automatically qualified to join.

The barangay chieftains or their duly designated representatives shall nominate one estero or waterway within their jurisdiction and submit the same to the DENR-NCR using the GTI nomination form, together with the geo-tagged photos of the nominated waterway.

The search will run from November 2022 to February 2023, while the awarding will be in March 2023, to coincide with World Water Day.

Nominees will be judged according to the LGUs’ management of their solid and liquid waste, informal settler families and illegal structures, habitat and resources, and sustainability and partnership. This set of criteria was based on the four clusters stated in the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy.

For the solid waste management category, which is 25% of the total score, nominees shall be judged based on a fully functional Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee, full implementation of segregated collection, fully functioning materials recovery facility/system, implementation of barangay-based solid waste management IEC or information, education, and communication campaign, and the conduct of regular cleanup in compliance with Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09.

Liquid waste management, which is 15% of the total score, shall be based on the estero’s physical characteristics such as turbidity and odor, absence of unregulated livestock, the LGUs’ conduct of interventions to improve water quality, inspection of households for presence of septic tank, adoption of Sewage and Septage Management Ordinance, implementation of IEC on desludging, water management, and prevention and pollution control.

Another 15% is for management of informal settler families (ISFs) and illegal structures, which shall consider the absence of ISF and illegal structures within legal easement; maintenance and protection activities of cleared areas; existing policies to ensure no illegal entrants; implementation of interventions such as fences and signages; and conduct of regular IEC to strengthen the maintenance and protection of cleared areas.

The same category shall also include presence of ISFs and illegal structures; legal easements delineated; conduct of census tagging and validation; conduct of IEC to ensure prevention and pollution control; and total length of waterways occupied by ISFs and with illegal structures.

Comprising 20% of the total score is the habitat and resource management, which covers the establishment of functional green spaces/linear park; aesthetics in urban design; attractiveness of the area; and community participation on DENR- and LGU-led tree growing activities.

Finally, 25% of the total score is for sustainability and partnership management, which include partnership with neighboring barangays for the estero clean-up and development; partnerships with community stakeholders; involvement of barangay residents volunteer on estero clean-ups and/or estero-related development projects; inclusion in the barangay’s annual budget and annual investment plan or financial plan on estero clean-up and/or estero related development projects and programs.

Also included in this category are estero clean-ups and/or estero related development projects spearheaded by women, youth, PWD, or senior citizen sectors; existing ordinance directly addressing the clean-up and development of estero in the barangay; implementation of any innovative interventions or management schemes related to estero clean-ups and/or development projects, and conduct of IEC activities.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan announced that the GTI will include a new category this year called Hall of Fame—or “winner among the winners” — where the DENR-NCR will choose from past winners and see if cleanliness was sustained and maintained by the respective barangays.

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