Duterte threatens closure of establishments polluting Manila Bay

Pia Ranada
Duterte threatens closure of establishments polluting Manila Bay

LeAnne Jazul

President Rodrigo Duterte orders the DILG and DENR to proceed with plans to clean up Manila Bay, as they did with Boracay

MANILA, Philippines – Just like in Boracay, President Rodrigo Duterte plans to close down establishments, particularly hotels, that allow waste to contaminate Manila Bay.

“Do something about your waste there or else I will close it,” said Duterte on Tuesday, January 8, during the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Pasay City.

Duterte said hotels must ensure they have working water treatment facilities. He had backed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) proposal to restore the water quality of Manila Bay during the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Itong mga hotel, ‘yung palabasin niyo ‘yung mga tae ng mga turista. Kaya ko itong tae ng Pilipino pero kung tae ng kung sinu-sino diyan, lagyan niyo ng water treatment ‘yang hotel niyo, ‘pag hindi sarahan ko ‘yan,” he said in front of Metro Manila local chief executives.

(These hotels, you release the waste of tourists. I can take the waste of Filipinos but if it’s waste from whoever, you put a water treatement facility in your hotel. If not, I’ll close it.)

Huwag mo ako hamunin. Kung wala tayong turista eh ‘di wala, hindi naman tayo mamamatay,” he added. (Don’t challenge me. If we don’t have tourists, then we won’t have them. We won’t die.)

The DENR had presented its plan during the meeting. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had said around P46 billion will be needed to clean up Manila Bay and that it would take years, hopefully by the end of Duterte’s term, to rehabilitate the famous body of water.

“I told Roy Cimatu, General Cimatu, and General (Eduardo) Año, you start cleaning the Manila Bay and it will be, they will start to clean it,” said Duterte.

Executive order

Earlier on Tuesday, Panelo said the DENR plans to improve Manila Bay’s water quality by cleaning the streams, canals, and rivers that serve as tributaries to the bay.

He said an executive order will “most likely” be drafted to guide the implementation of the cleanup plan.

Many of the waterways leading to Manila Bay have been polluted by informal settlers living above them. In the past, the government has tried relocating these communities in an effort to clean up the canals. 

Boracay redux?

Duterte had the same beef with world-famous beach destination Boracay Island which prompted him to order its closure for 6 months.

He had called it a “cesspool” after seeing photos and videos of its algae-strewn beaches and sewerage system during a Cabinet meeting.

The government cracked down on hotels and resorts found violating environmental regulations on waste management. Eventually, only around 150 such establishments were allowed to reopen last October 26, 2018, out of the original 525 hotels and resorts.

Also during the closure, the island’s sewerage system was repaired.

Malacañang earlier announced that the Cabinet had discussed using road users’ tax funds to finance the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.