DENR welcomes Supreme Court Manila Bay cleanup deadline
- Michael Punongbayan () - March 14, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje welcomed yesterday the recent Supreme Court ruling that ordered concerned government agencies to abide by the June 30, 2011 deadline in cleaning up Manila Bay.

“I personally welcomed the move of the Supreme Court of giving the DENR, as well as the other government agencies, time frames within which we are to implement our respective tasks in cleaning up Manila Bay,” he said during a cruise of Manila Bay last Friday with five Supreme Court justices led by Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The other justices who joined the Manila Bay inspection tour were Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Perez. 

The justices and other officials boarded the MV EDSA II at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) wharf in South Harbor, Manila and they conducted an ocular assessment of ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the bay.

“The overall state of Manila Bay has deteriorated since the issuance of the mandamus, but there are certain areas that have actually shown a little improvement. The deadlines set by the SC will hopefully lead to the bay’s rehabilitation at the soonest possible time,” Paje said.

The SC rendered a decision on Feb. 15, 2011 based on recommendations by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC) led by Justice Velasco, to set a time frame for the agencies to perform their tasks as ordered in a “writ of continuing mandamus” for the DENR and 10 other government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, known worldwide for its beautiful sunset.

The mandamus was issued in December 2008 as a result of a complaint filed by “concerned residents of Manila Bay” on the alleged inaction of government to improve the bay’s condition.

During the meeting, Paje directed Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) executive director Noel Gaerlan to submit to the SC the updated Operational Plan for Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) even before the June 30, 2011 deadline set by the SC.

The plan also includes template forms or lists for an environmental compliance audit which was suggested by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa who had presented “practical ways” to clean up the bay, suggesting that issues be divided into three: solid waste management, liquid waste management, and informal settlers. He also proposed that barangays be audited according to their compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, evaluating them with a “point system” for segregation, collection, existence of materials recovery facilities, dumpsites, and the like.

Gaerlan presented the results of water quality monitoring for year 2010, indicating the amounts of fecal and total coliform as counted in 14 monitoring stations set up along the shorelines around the bay. 

The stations are located at Noveleta, Tanza and Naic in Cavite, Limay and Mariveles in Bataan, Navotas Fishport, Rizal Park in Manila, Bacoor and Rosario, Cavite.

Only six out of the 14 passed the criteria for fecal coliform, namely two stations in Noveleta, two in Tanza, one each in Mariveles and Limay.  Meanwhile, nine stations yielded passing marks for total coliform, namely two in Noveleta, two in Naic, one in Cavite, and all four in Bataan.

ANTONIO OPOSA BACOOR AND ROSARIO BAY CASTILLO AND JOSE PEREZ CAVITE CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA ECOLOGICAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT MANILA MANILA BAY NOVELETA SUPREME COURT
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