MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has reconstituted the Manila Bay Advisory Committee to monitor and ensure that the government is doing its court-ordered obligations to rehabilitate Manila Bay.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta told the Manila Bay Task Force in its principals meeting on Thursday, January 23, that he is the new chairman of the committee which will monitor the government's compliance to the orders of the Supreme Court 10 years ago.
In the case MMDA vs Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, the Supreme Court in 2008 ordered the government to "clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation."
The committee was formed to verify government reports of its compliance to the order.
Peralta attended and delivered a speech to the Manila Bay Task Force Principals meeting on Thursday.
"The idea is not just to comply with this tall order, but to ensure that we are on track by way of periodic updates on our progress. Concededly, this could take years, but this duty is ours in the present, and we will not relent," said Peralta.
Peralta said the committee's new members are Associate Justices Rodil Zalameda and Edgardo Delos Santos, and Court Administrator Midas Marquez. (READ: Manila Bay cleanup: High hopes, murky plans)
Manila bay rehab
The government's inter-agency task force is headed by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who reported during the meeting that the water quality of Manila Bay has drastically improved.
It was a claim slammed by fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) which said that “ecological and marine disturbances still occur in major fishing areas of the Manila Bay."
“Ironically, the DENR has been bragging about the improved water quality of Manila Bay and yet, ecological disturbances such as fish kill and constant depletion of fish catch arise. Thus, we raise the question on the effectivity of the government’s ongoing rehabilitation drive that costs the public coffers a whopping amount of P42 billion,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement on Saturday, January 25.
The group also questioned why Cimatu is “keeping mum” on pending reclamation projects in Manila Bay.
Reclamation projects in Manila Bay have been given clearances according to the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), as reported by ABS-CBN News in December 2019.
Manila Bay covers 8 provinces and 178 local governments in 3 regions, namely: the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.
Its drainage area covers 1,994 kilometers and its coastline stretches some 190 kilometers.
Manila Bay also has 17 principal river systems draining into it. – Rappler.com