To save Manila Bay
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2018 - 12:00am

Robert “Bobby”  Joseph is the new commodore of the Manila Yacht Club for its 91st year and his mission during his two-year term is to make Manila Bay clean again. This he vows to tackle – after sailing with his wife Ida and his friends along the black water with plastic bags floating on Manila Bay. What happened to the bay, once hailed as having one of the best sunsets of the world?

“Unlike the others, my approach would be through legal means,” said Bobby.  “We have the best environmental laws in the world, we just have to implement them properly.”  

Joseph has been a member of the Manila Yacht Club for 20 years and being its newly elected  commodore is an opportunity for him to campaign for his advocacy for the environment. His formal turnover was last Nov.  17 during the “Opening Day Ceremonies and Sail Pass for 2018-2019” with Senate President Vicente Sotto III as the guest of honor.  

Joseph believes that saving the bay is one big step toward  putting the Philippines on the map of the elite, which will open more investment opportunities for the country.

The environmentalist  said the project is not to clean up Manila Bay but see to it that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) implements environmental laws to prevent further decay. This also calls for Maynilad and Manila Water working on the sewerage system to stop further degradation. Cooperation with the Commission of Audit, the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Energy and Natural Resources is therefore a must. There will be training for waste management  on the barangay level.

Joseph is seeking the help of President Duterte in eliminating all dwellers in waterways in Metro Manila by transferring them in houses constructed by the National Housing Administration within three years.    

He is  working with Tony Oposa, a world renowned environmentalist, to help in this area.

“With 23 million residents daily defecating in Metro Manila that means 23 million pounds of human waste ending up in Manila Bay. Add to that all the garbage, chemicals especially hospital hazardous materials, and diseases thrown into the sea, thus making Manila Bay the biggest cesspool in the country.“

“To use the word toxic is mild for Manila Bay,” Joseph emphasized. “It is a shit zone. If cleaning up can be done in Boracay why not Manila?”

Joseph has the full support of Senate President Tito Sotto and the Rotary Club of Manila. More are expected to help expedite the project. 

Present during Joseph’s installation event were Vice Commodore Armando de Rossi and wife Lilibeth de Rossi, Rear-Commodore Ildefonso Marco Tronqued, and Vice-Admiral Fred Villanueva, and Joey Talion.

Let’s support Joseph in this gargantuan effort to Save our Seas (SOS). Save our Splendor. Save Manila Bay Now!

To those who do not know Bobby, he is 68 years old, studied at Letran College for his  BS Economics, and  in 1971 received the  Colegio Award in Business and Advocacies in  2005.

Bobby  has raked up several awards. Among them, Tourist Man of the Year Cebu Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Exemplar Award by Media in 2012 and 2015, Lifetime achievement awards from the Airline Cargo Association, Tourism Philippine Airlines, Rotary Club of Manila and People Asia Magazine’s “Men who Matter in Tourism 2015.”

Wine  lovers know of Bobby as chair of Phil Wine Merchants, Columbia Transport and Wine Museum Hotel and Resto.

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Last week, this column focused on the need for people to be aware of keeping healthy, particularly to avoid lung cancer. Today’s piece is on a remarkable  development  to make accessible affordable and free cancer prevention programs, diagnosis, treatment and supportive care for patients with any kind of cancer, of any stage, of any age and cultural background. 

This is due to the Senate’s approval of Senate Bill 1850 or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, by a unanimous vote of  18-0. The bill is principally authored by Senators  JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay and Loren Legarda. It aims to institutionalize a national integrated cancer control program in the whole country.

Senator Ejercito said, “It is high time that we give hope to cancer patients… as sponsor and one of the authors of the measure, I consider the bill as an imperative effort to address the gap in the government’s cancer program.

The approval of this measure will really provide hope to every Filipino who suffered long-enough battling cancer on their own. Today, we give them something to look forward to.”

According to cancer-prevention group data, there are nearly 150,000 new cases of cancer every year. Only 40 percent of that figure will survive. Most government and private cancer assistance programs cater to a few cancers and only to cancers of an early stage. The top five cancers in the Philippines are breast, lung, colon, liver, prostate, and cervical.

With the Senate approval, all eyes are now on the House of Representatives as they deliberate on the different provisions of the bill on the floor this week.

House health committee chair Congresswoman Helen Tan (4th District, Quezon province) is confident her colleagues will support the bill. “I think every member of the House would like to see help come in the way to any cancer patient. We hope to secure a swift passage soon.”  

Congressman Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City) and one of the principal authors said, “No person deserves to suffer terribly from cancer. No family should undergo such challenges without the effective support of government and society. It’s time to wake up and fight cancer together, thus the passage of this bill is of utmost importance.”

House Majority Floor Leader Rolando J. Andaya assured members of the Cancer Coalition Philippines who called on him recently that the bill will be deliberated in the floor without delay.

For its part, Cancer Coalition Philippines, the national network advocating for the elimination of barriers to cancer care, hopes for the immediate passage and subsequent approval of the law.

A statement shared by the Coalition on its social media site says: “The swift approval reflects the value legislators place on persons with cancer of any stage, age, gender and income bracket. We laud the commitment of the Senate to a basic human right – the right to life. The state of the nation can only be as good as the state of its people’s health and well-being. With cancer as the No. 2 cause of death for adults and children and with projections pointing to an 80 percent increase of cancer incidence in 12 years, its immediate passage is of utmost importance.”

“We are nearing the finish line for the passage of the bill,” said Kara Magsanoc Alikpala, co-chair of the Coalition. “We hope everyone in Congress will support it so hope and help will be on the table for persons with cancer and their families.”

“We see patients everyday and they have been hoping to see this bill passed. We hope it will happen with the current Congress,” added Dr. Ramon Severino, Coalition co-chair. “We need the House to approve it now so we can proceed to bicam to align all the provisions and have a bill that will truly enable all the cancer control programs of the country.

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