Peralta satisfied with Manila Bay cleanup

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
Peralta satisfied with Manila Bay cleanup
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu inspect the Manila Bay beach in Manila yesterday.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta is satisfied with how the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and 12 other government agencies have been abiding by the Supreme Court’s order to restore the water quality of Manila Bay, SC officials said yesterday.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said Peralta was accompanied by SC Associate Justices Rodil Zalameda, Mario Lopez, Edgardo delos Santos and Ricardo Rosario in attending the presentation of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu on their compliance with the continuing mandamus issued by the SC in 2008.

SC spokesman Brian Keith Hosaka said that it was Peralta, as chairman of the SC Manila Bay Advisory Committee, who initiated the meeting with the DENR.

“He (Peralta) wanted the Manila Bay Task Force to report to him and give an update on the projects and initiatives undertaken to clean up Manila Bay pursuant to the continuing mandamus issued by the Supreme Court,” said Hosaka.

After the on-site inspection of Manila Bay, Peralta said he was informed by an engineer that fecal coliform levels in Manila Bay is 49 most probable number per 100 milliliters, lower than the required 200 mpn/100 ml.

“Even if you ask other people, this feat is impressive,” Peralta said.

“What I can say is that the Manila Bay is already clean. All the water that passes through the esteros (have been treated) before it reaches Manila Bay. In other words, the purpose of the continuing mandamus is to clean the water, and if you ask me if I am satisfied then I am satisfied because the water is clean,” he added.

Petition vs DENR

Peralta also said the SC would deliberate on Nov. 3 on a petition to cite the DENR in contempt for allegedly failing to comply with the continuing mandamus. The petition was filed by the Akbayan Citizen’s Action party after the DENR dumped crushed dolomite to create the Manila Bay “white sand” beach.

Peralta asked the DENR to submit scientific studies and findings on the effects of dolomite on humans.

Akbayan said the DENR’s beach enhancement project, which reportedly costs P389 million, poses a danger to the environment and places the health of people at risk.

DENR Undersecretary and spokesman Benny Antiporda said that from 2009 up to 2016, government spending for the bay’s rehabilitation was at P3 billion a year “though there were no clear accomplishments.”

“Right now, we’ve only spent close to P2 billion for this year,” he said.

As for reports that the crushed dolomite was washed away by heavy rains, Antiporda said “the amount of white sand… is still the same, it just got mixed up with the black sand coming from the sea.”

He said that each time this happens, “a cleanup of the beachfront should be initiated.” – Rhodina Villanueva

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