MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has formed a task force in charge of restoring Manila Bay to its former glory.
He created the “Manila Bay Task Force” through Administrative Order No 16, signed on Tuesday, February 19. AO 16 directs a faster “rehabilitation and restoration of the coastal and marine ecosystem of the Manila Bay.”
The task force will be chaired by the environment secretary, with the interior and tourism secretaries as vice chairpersons. Members include the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Manila Water Company, and Maynilad Water Services Incorporated, among others.
What will the task force do? The administrative order lists down the following powers and functions of the task force:
- Enforce the Code on Sanitation of the Philippines
- Require all government faciities, subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers, hotels, hospitals, market places, households, and other buildings to “immediately” connect their sewage lines to sewerage systems or sewerage treatment plants
- Impose fines, penalties, and other administrative sanctions if the establishments refuse to comply
- Use engineering and technological interventions to improve Manila Bay’s water quality, such as reducing the coliform level in all river systems and tributaries of Manila Bay
- Prepare a plan to expedite the local sanitation programs of local government units within the Manila Bay region by 2026
- Ensure that local governments and concerned government agencies penalize persons or establishments that violate environmental laws
- Undertake a “massive” information drive to garner public support for the Manila Bay cleanup, in collaboration with the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Presidential Communications Operations Office, and LGUs
- Create models for LGUs to cooperate with one another in ecosystem management, particularly for Laguna Lake and Pasig River, which are connected to Manila Bay