MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is confident that there will be a more noticeable change in the quality of water in the rivers and estuaries leading to Manila Bay within the year.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu cited reports that the water quality in some areas along Manila Bay is already improving. (READ: Manila Bay rehab: Why the bay can’t be saved in 6 months)
“There are some beach areas that are already swimmable, compliant, specifically in [the] Bataan [area],” Cimatu told Rappler on Sunday, March 31.
On that same day, the DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission began simultaneous cleanup drives in the rivers and estuaries that lead to Manila Bay.
Some clean-ups have already started way earlier:— Anna Mogato (@AGAMogato) March 30, 2019
San Juan river
Tullahan and Tinajeros River
Marikina River/Manggahan Floodway
Las Piñas-Zapote River | @rapplerdotcom
Half of the battle won
As of Monday, April 1, some 70,889 kilograms or 4,950 sacks of garbage had already been collected from 181 barangay cleanup sites. The DENR also recorded that 15,309 people participated in the cleanup.
To maintain cleanliness, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año told reporters that they have issued a memorandum circular to make weekly cleanup drives mandatory in 178 local government units (LGUs) surrounding the rivers and estuaries.
“Every week, magko-conduct sila ng cleanup, hanggang maging second nature na natin ‘yan, maging part na ng kultura natin ‘yan. Papakiusapan natin ang DepEd (Department of Education) na turuan ang mga bata maglinis,” he added.
(Every week, they will conduct cleanups, until cleaning becomes second nature, until it becomes part of the culture. We will ask the DepEd to teach children to clean.)
Año added that erring barangay officials will be charged, which could lead to dismissal or suspension from duty. (READ: 95 LGUs around Manila Bay violating environmental laws – DILG)
Likewise, informal settlers living along these bodies of water will be moved to relocation sites in Bulacan and Cavite. These settlers were tagged as one of the sources of pollution.
For the DENR’s side, Cimatu said they will have to review the implementation of contracts between LGUs and contractors assigned to collect garbage.
“The weakness of the local government and the estero (estuary) problem, is the garbage,” he added.
“Hindi maganda ang pag-dispose – ibig sabihin may naiiwan, may hindi nakukuha, na napupunta sa estero…. So gusto namin i-improve ang sistema.”
(The disposal is not good – there’s garbage left behind, not collected, which goes to the estuary…. So we want to improve the system.)
In coordination with the MMDA, Cimatu also said the DENR will go after factories and establishments that discharge wastewater into these bodies of water. (READ: Gov’t goes after more businesses polluting Manila Bay, waterways) – Rappler.com
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