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A FIRST FOR PHILIPPINES & 'TRAILBLAZING' PARTNERSHIP

At the multifaceted, high protocol occasion, the unveiling of the Greenline Hotline and Textline Project's hotline number was the most anticipated event with hands clapping and cameras snapping.

And the number is 09178119762!

Those digits represent a new and major way for citizens of seven municipalities in the Province of Bulacan and metropolitan Manila, Philippines, to implement and enforce environmental policies. The Greenline Hotline and Text Facility is a first for a Water Quality Management Area in that country. It is also an example of a robust partnership to help clean up a polluted river system.

A collaborative effort, Blacksmith Institute, the Provincial Government of Bulacan, Meycauayan-Marila-Obando Water Quality Management Area Board, Philippine Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Globe Telecommunications, and Sony Ericsson joined together to encourage active citizen involvement in river quality monitoring.

The seven local governments participating are Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando, Sta. Maria, San Jose Del Monte, Caloocan and Valenzuela, with Quick Response Teams selected and trained for each city.

Grand Event

Representatives from all levels and sectors attended the launching ceremony, including the provincial governor, congressional representatives, municipal mayors, superintendents and supervisors, education and business leaders. Guests packed the provincial capitol gymnasium in Malolos to witness the ceremonial activities and hear the speakers.

In his welcoming remarks, Provincial Governor of Bulacan, Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, emphasized the area's abundant resources as well as environmental problems, and the importance of a text facility so citizens can report their environmental concerns and help local governments enforce environmental laws and respond to environmental issues.

Controlling pollution at its source was a major point made by Blacksmith Country Coordinator Marlo Mendoza, and has led to pilot testing of cost-effective, anti-pollution technologies for backyard piggeries, tannery and gold smelting industries, he told the assembly.

Expressing their commitment to the Greenline Hotline and Textline Project and promising to uphold environmental welfare, all partnering agencies formally signed a memo of agreement and a symbolic, outsized "commitment" board. Globe Telecommunications also committed to tree planting in the area and awarded financial support.

Quick Response Teams from each participating city were recognized and presented with Greenline Packages--cellphones and tarpaulins for hotline information dissemination.

A lively press conference concluded the ceremony. Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio said the Greenline Project will be the test case for similar parts of the Philippines with polluted river. "Other areas in the country are now looking at Bulacan and will most likely adopt the best practices here. So the project will be blazing a trail," he told the press.