The Battle for Manila Bay

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched the project dubbed "Battle for Manila Bay" on January 27th which "will be won not with force or arms but with the firm resolve to bring Manila Bay back to life,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement.

IMAGE: Jerry Manilag via Twitter

More than 5,000 participants, mostly personnel from the DENR and 12 other government agencies tasked by the Supreme Court gathered together to clean up Manila Bay. The "Solidarity Walk" started at 7 AM from the Quirino Grandstand to the Baywalk area, in front of the Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate. 

Simultaneous cleanup activities also happened along the Baywalk, at the Las Piñas-Parañaque critical habitat and ecotourism area, in the Marine Tree Park in Navotas and in Talaba Dos in Bacoor, Cavite.

In the next coming weeks, rehabilitation projects will be launched in Central Luzon, specifically in Obando, Bulacan; Mariveles, Bataan; and Guagua, Pampanga.

IMAGE: Jerry Manilag via Twitter

"The Manila Bay rehabilitation program would not only involve cleanup activities, but also relocation of illegal settlers as well as apprehension of establishments that violate the Philippine Clean Water Act and other environmental laws", Cimatu said.

Cimatu added that the DENR will serve notices of violation to these establishments that discharge untreated water to esteros, rivers and other tributaries that flow into Manila Bay.

Recently, the DENR ordered the closure of Aristocrat Restaurant in Roxas Boulevard for "generating and discharging pollutive wastewater" amid the government's move to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

IMAGE: Jerry Manilag via Twitter

It is noted that the Manila City government has ordered the temporary closure of Manila Zoo to allow the reconstruction of its sewer lines. The zoo is located near Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate, Manila, which directly drains into the Manila Bay. Also, the DENR ordered establishments around the bay to put up their own sewage treatment plants last January 11.

President Duterte approved the Manila Bay rehabilitation plan proposed by the DENR. He allocated P42.95 billion for the implementation of the project within three years. Aside from the DENR, other departments tasked in the Manila Bay cleanup are tourism, interior and local government, social welfare and development, trade and industry, defense, and science and technology.

IMAGE: Jerry Manilag via Twitter

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed local government units (LGUs) and barangays around Manila Bay to conduct weekly cleanup activities. He signed the Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09, directing the 178 LGUs and 5,714 barangays to take part in activities that would contribute to the rehabilitation of the bay.

“Manila Bay is polluted and partly, we have ourselves to blame. But it’s not too late, we can still make amends,” Año said in a statement.