Lawmaker says DENR ‘remiss’ in taking care of Manila Bay

Aika Rey
Lawmaker says DENR ‘remiss’ in taking care of Manila Bay
'Why did they allow this to continue for so many years?' says Quezon City 2nd District Representative Winston Castelo, chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker on Thursday, January 24, slammed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for being “remiss” in its duty to take care of Manila Bay.

Quezon City 2nd District Representative Winston Castelo as well as other lawmakers inspected Manila Bay with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday.

“Why did they allow this to continue for so many years? This problem would not go to this extent if they were not remiss in their duty of inspecting and providing for certificate for environment clearance,” Castelo, who chairs the House committee on Metro Manila development, said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“[This is] very suspicious. We have to know and to find out [why],” he said.

Any project or business in the country that could pose a potential environmental risk must apply for an environmental compliance certificate (ECC).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Environment Management Bureau issues an ECC if the project does not pose a negative impact on the environment, or has complied to the agency’s requirements.

Año said that “obviously” there are violations of environmental laws in Manila Bay.

“Kita mo agad na ‘di ito safe para gamitin mo for swimming and bathing. Obviously, may mga violation na nakita diyan,” Año said. (You can immediately see that this is not safe for swimming and bathing. Obviously, there are violations there.)

The DENR will be issuing notices of violations to estabishments as part of its rehabilitation efforts in Manila Bay. Businesses violating environmental laws will be fined up to P200,000 ($3,781.38)*.

The DENR earlier said at least 5 big establishments will be ordered closed because they do not have proper sewerage treatment plants. Manila Zoo, which the DENR earlier tagged as a “major pollutant of Manila Bay” was officially closed to the public on Wednesday, January 23. 

The environment department will kickstart the cleanup of Manila Bay on Sunday, January 27. Other agencies such as the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission will be conducting their own activities as well. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P52.89

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.