Manila Bay cleanup starts Jan. 27
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2019 - 12:00am

As we literally restarted the talk about the cleaning up of Manila Bay when my good friend, Robert “Bobby” Joseph was given the title of Commodore of the Manila Yacht Club, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu attended this historic meeting… but as my readers know, kidney transplant patients have to have a lesser workload to stay healthy. So instead I would ask Commodore Bobby Joseph for his comments on the Jan. 15 meeting. This is a series of texts sent by Commodore Bobby Joseph on my question how was the meeting?

“The Secretary (Cimatu) conveyed to the group a no nonsense approach and he cannot accept excuses. He has presented a comprehensive action plan and the launching of the Manila Bay cleanup will start at the Manila Yacht Club on Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. I hope you can come and attend this.”

Commodore Bobby Joseph sent me another text to answer the question on how was the meeting in DENR? His text message, “Super great and amazing day. Seeing all the top honchos of government agencies supporting the action plan for immediate, short and medium up to long term plan of seven years with P47 billion and around P36 billion going to the housing and allowance and transfer of dwellers along waterways. We expect in three months a dramatic cleanup of all esteros.

Ten thousand men will be assigned in designated esteros with proper equipment and logistics to take out all the silt, mud and waste. Construct steps in government buildings, hospitals, Manila Zoo and the rest of Metro Manila and the suburbs. All buildings, malls, warehouses and factories will be inspected thoroughly. Those who refuse to implement will be fined daily from P20,000 to P200,000! Coliform level has reached over a billion plus while the normal level should only be 100!”

In Bobby Joseph’s Facebook page he posted what the DENR presented as their charts for all who attended the meeting to evaluate. For instance, they had a chart on the Supreme Court’s Mandamus G.R. No. 171947 dated Dec. 18, 2008 directing 13 government agencies to clean up Manila Bay and restore its water to safe levels. This was the Mandamus that Sec. Roy Cimatu talked about in the media presentation.

Then the DENR presented a chart that revealed the DENR tasks… to implement components of the Operational Plan for Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) within its mandate. Then to coordinate with all mandamus agencies and other agencies involved in management of Manila Bay on effective implementation of OPMBCS. Then DENR would manage water quality standards for Manila Bay through standard setting, regular monitoring and determination of Water Quality Management Areas (WQMA).

Thanks again Sir Bobby for posting those 35 charts presented by the DENR during the Jan. 15 meeting. It was as if I was really in that meeting. At this point let me say that thanks to the legal cases filed by my good friend and fellow Cebuano Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr. our Supreme Court (SC) finally woke up to the reality that as far back as year 2008, the waters of Manila Bay was already seriously contaminated. It needed national government agencies to implement a cleanup drive. But it was not implemented at all by the 13 government agencies. I guess they had other better things to do.

Then came the six long years of the Aquino Presidency that even stopped the Laguna Bay development by a Netherlands company… it then worsened things in Manila Bay. Well, it took an 11-year slumber for Manila Bay to continue suffering due to the neglect of government agencies. I also blame the SC for not punishing the 13 government agencies for disobeying a SC mandamus. At this point, I would like to believe that some of the charts that the DENR presented were already done a long time ago. But since the DENR did not push through with the Mandamus order, they just kept those charts in storage until there was a reason to bring them out.

Enter the participation of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last Tuesday when he warned hotels along Roxas Blvd. that they would be closed if the regulators found out that they were dumping their waste into Manila Bay? Suddenly the 13 Mandamus agencies sprang back to life and prepared what they must have earlier prepared to clean up Manila Bay. With the participation of Pres. Duterte, everyone knows that he has the political will to implement what he wants to be implemented.

So come Jan. 27 the DENR would do the formal launching of the cleanup of Manila Bay at the Manila Yacht Club at 9 a.m. and change the course of Philippine history. A wonderful and historic Manila Bay where once people came to view the sunset and take a nice swim deteriorated due to human abuse. Now finally the national government has taken cognizance of Manila Bay’s environmental protection and restoration!

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