Cleaning Manila Bay is now Duterte’s advocacy
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2019 - 12:00am

I was taken by surprise that no less than President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to close establishments polluting one of the country’s natural harbors – the Manila Bay. So soon Mr. President? It looks like Pres. Duterte must have read my Tuesday column entitled “The Manila Bay clean up starts now.” Last Tuesday evening, the President ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to begin the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

The Chief Executive stressed that if establishment owners will not heed  his order, he will not hesitate to close them.

He said in Tagalog, “Itong mga hotel, yung palabasin ninyo mga tae ng mga turista…lagyan ninyo ng water treatment yang mga hotel ninyo kung hindi sarahan ko yan. Huwag ninyo akong hamunin. Kung wala tayong turista eh di wala. You do something about your waste there or else I will close you,” the President said this speech during the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Manila.   

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda apparently confirmed that the Duterte administration is allotting P47 billion to fund the Manila Bay clean-up. The budget will also be used to look for relocation sites for affected families living near the bay. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the total budget may amount to P132 billion, adding the road users’ tax for government projects will be utilized to fund the rehabilitation.”That’s only  part of the road users tax. Malaki ‘yung road users tax (Road users tax is large),” he told the media in a briefing.

I had a lot of comments on the article we wrote about cleaning Manila Bay starting this year. First came from a good friend, Rick Ramos who texted, “Bobit, I have seen it happen in the past 25-30 years attending meetings with the DENR. Useless! I founded the Environmental Network Center Inc. (ENCI) in 1990. Tony Oposa was with us. Meetings with LGUs by DENR is all for show! I would not even attend these meetings if I were invited. They are not looking at a permanent solution to the problem. Cimatu is wrong to say that Manila Bay can be cleaned up in One Year!” I do not disagree with Rick, but then we are talking about different people in the DENR, plus the fact that under the Duterte administration, they cleaned up Boracay!

Here’s another letter. “Dear Mr. Avila: We encourage your support to the Manila Bay cleanup. Please continue and also raise the following dimensions of the problem; in other words back up to Pasig, Laguna Lake and its waterways in three provinces: 1) Include cleanup of Laguna Lake, where bulk of the coliform pollution from 16 or so waterways come from in Rizal, Laguna and Cavite.  Ex Sen. Ilarde has raised this point. 

The LLDA has jurisdiction but more concerned with the fishpens and small fishermen. Note that bangus and tilapia from the lake help reduce such coliform (eek!). Trace these waterways upstream and see households without toilets! The UPLB, through its Institute of Biological Sciences and the School of Environmental Science and Management, and a BFAR station in Pililla have all the facts from relevant studies. 2) The Bulacan waterways, and to a lesser degree from Pampanga contribute also coliform but more industrial waste: note heavy metals. DENR knows this and the province has jurisdiction. Arsenio D. Calub Retired Assoc. Prof., UPLB”

Actually there are more letters, but I can only accommodate three and this is the third letter. “Sir Bobit, I read your column today, first DENR must also install Water Quality Analyser in different sites where they feel somebody or companies were throwing untreated water, just like mining companies in their mining sites, where DENR can monitor remotely if that company were throwing untreated water. See attached Online Water Analysers that can do the job I mentioned. DENR can monitor the water quality in their office 24/7 and everything is recorded so walang lusot yong mga companies that continue to dump untreated water.

In fact, may mga sites na ngayon na may remote monitoring stations for water quality sa Vitas, Tondo, Libertad, Pasay, Napindad at PCG Compound but it’s not being used later by DENR-MBCO. Sayang yong investment ng Government dito kung pabayaan lang. All our BOD Analysers were functioning pero walang PM (preventive maintenance) na ginagawa ang DENR-MBCO. Sana, you can call the attention of Sec. Cimatu. Daghang Salamat Sir Bobit, taga Mindanao ko, sa Agusan Sur Regards, Rico Alegre.”

Yes, I submit that many people have already tried cleaning up Manila Bay in the past, but failed terribly simply because first of all, the presidents of the Philippines in those days were not as committed in doing something of such magnitude. My confidence is simply, we have a President who has the political will to do the impossible tasks. So now Manila Bay is DU30’s advocacy!

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