DENR exec on calls to resign: Ask Duterte
DENR Undersecretary for solid waste management and local government unit concerns Benny Antiporda said that he is just helping the DENR achieve its goals, which includes the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.
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DENR exec on calls to resign: Ask Duterte
Rhodina Villanueva, Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday said that despite calls for him to resign, he will just continue doing his job.

DENR Undersecretary for solid waste management and local government unit concerns Benny Antiporda said that he is just helping the DENR achieve its goals, which includes the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.

“Those who want me out can ask the President (Duterte) and Secretary (Roy Cimatu) directly so this can happen. But I’m just doing my job, and my intention here is to serve the people,” he said.

The Geographic Society of the University of the Philippines (UP) said Antiporda is not fit for the job and what the country needs is an official who is “credible, responsive and committed to protecting and managing the environment and natural resources.”

The group was reacting to reports that Antiporda called the UP Marine Science Institute experts “bayaran” or paid hacks after the MSI offered recommendations on how to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

Antiporda has apologized, saying he was carried away by emotions given the numerous criticisms they received concerning the Manila Bay project.

He said the DENR and UP MSI director Laura David are now in talks on the Manila Bay issue.

The P389-million beautification project, which involves covering a 500-meter stretch of the bay’s shoreline with crushed dolomite, has received flak from the public because of its timing and alleged health risks.

‘Prioritize water quality’

Meanwhile, David said while there is nothing wrong with pursuing beautification initiatives, improving water quality should be the priority in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, given the limited budget.

“You have to prioritize. According to the mandamus, which was agreed upon by a lot of agencies, it has to be water quality first,” she said in Filipino during an interview with “The Chiefs” on OneNews/TV5 on Thursday night.

“So in that sense, the dolomite, it doesn’t contribute to the betterment of the water quality,” she added.

The Supreme Court issued a continuing mandamus in 2008 directing 13 government agencies to clean up Manila Bay.

During an on-site inspection on Wednesday, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said he was satisfied with the efforts to clean up the area, noting supposed improvements in water quality in some parts of the bay.

David, however, noted that water quality is still a problem, especially in the portion of Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard that is still unsafe for swimming.

Microplastics, she added, can even be detected in the water all the way to Corregidor.

“There is a serious need for wastewater management and wastewater treatment plant,” she said when asked what should be prioritized in the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

“When the sewage system of Manila was created, the projection was only four million people. We’re way beyond that,” she added, noting that only 20 percent of the city’s sewage is treated.

David also reiterated their proposal for the creation of different monitoring sites to identify specific interventions in different areas of the bay.

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