DENR: All systems go for Manila Bay rehab

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
DENR: All systems go for Manila Bay rehab
A man watches the Manila Bay sunset from the Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard in this file photo. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will launch today the ‘Battle for Manila Bay,’ which involves cleanup activities and raising public awareness on the rehabilitation effort.
Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — It’s all systems go for the start of the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay today, the  Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said yesterday.

The launch of the project dubbed “Battle for Manila Bay” is expected to bring together more than 5,000 participants, mostly personnel from the DENR and 12 other government agencies tasked by the Supreme Court to clean up Manila Bay.

“This is a battle that will be won not with force or arms but with the firm resolve to bring Manila Bay back to life,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement.

The launch will begin with the “Solidarity Walk” at 7 a.m. from the Quirino Grandstand to the Baywalk area in front of the Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate.

Simultaneous cleanup activities will follow along the Baywalk, at the Las Piñas-Parañaque critical habitat and ecotourism area, in the Marine Tree Park in Navotas and in Talaba Dos in Bacoor, Cavite.

In Central Luzon, rehabilitation projects will be launched in the towns of Obando in Bulacan, Mariveles in Bataan and Guagua in Pampanga. 

Cimatu said the Manila Bay rehabilitation program would not only involve cleanup activities, but also relocation of illegal settlers as well as apprehension of establishments that violate the Philippine Clean Water Act and other environmental laws.

Cimatu is expected to identify establishments found violating the Clean Water Act.

“We will serve notices of violation to these establishments that discharge untreated water to esteros, rivers and other tributaries that flow into Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.

The DENR aims to reduce the coliform level in Manila Bay and in all estuaries and creeks.

Earlier this month, President Duterte approved the Manila Bay rehabilitation plan proposed by the DENR. He allocated P42.95 billion for the implementation of the project within three years.

Aside from the DENR, other departments tasked in the Manila Bay cleanup are tourism, interior and local government, social welfare and development, trade and industry, defense, and science and technology.

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, National Housing Authority, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, Manila Water Co. Inc., Maynilad Water Services Inc. as well as various local government units, non-government organizations and other stakeholders will participate in the cleanup.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed local government units (LGUs) and barangays around Manila Bay to conduct weekly cleanup activities.

Año signed Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09, directing the 178 LGUs and 5,714 barangays to take part in activities that would contribute to the rehabilitation of the bay.

“Manila Bay is polluted and partly, we have ourselves to blame. But it’s not too late, we can still make amends,” Año said in a statement.

Volunteers, non-government organizations and civic society organizations could also be tapped in the cleanup drive to help support the rehabilitation project.

Barangay officials and their constituents were also urged to participate in today’s launch.

Village leaders were ordered to ensure that all barangay officials and employees would participate in the cleanup activities, including raising public awareness on the project.  – With Jun Elias, Romina Cabrera

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