EDITORIAL — Cleaning up the coasts

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL � Cleaning up the coasts

The Philippines joins the world in marking International Coastal Cleanup Day today as 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay remain on hold on orders of President Marcos amid concerns about their long-term destructive impact on the environment.

The projects, all of which were approved during the Duterte administration, went against a Supreme Court writ of continuing mandamus issued on Dec. 18, 2008, ordering 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay to make the water fit for swimming, skin-diving and other forms of contact recreation.

This year, portions of Bulacan have been submerged in floodwaters almost throughout the entire typhoon-monsoon season. Classes are being held in flooded school rooms. Fisherfolk are complaining that their fish catch has dropped dramatically because of reclamation activities along coastal communities in the province and neighboring Pampanga.

Apart from reclamation activities, coastal areas in this archipelago of over 7,600 islands suffer from indiscriminate waste disposal and pollution. In Manila Bay, the pollution is highlighted on the artificial off-white dolomite beach constructed in the city of Manila – another controversial project of the previous administration, which will again be a focus of today’s coastal cleanup activities.

Tons of trash wash up on the shores of the bay after a typhoon or even a monsoon-induced downpour, with the garbage coming from coastal communities as well as the numerous waterways that open out into the bay. In marking International Coastal Cleanup Day, there will be special focus as usual on plastic waste. But all sorts of garbage as well as toxic industrial waste end up in waterways all over the country. The problem has long called for more efficient waste management as well as a change in people’s trash disposal habits.

In many communities, indiscriminate garbage disposal has led to clogged drainage and siltation in waterways, which aggravate flooding. Recycling efforts have been ongoing for decades but have achieved slow progress. On this special day, people can renew their commitment not only to keep coastal areas clean but also to promote efficient waste management and proper garbage disposal, both at home and in public places.

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