Gov’t goes after more businesses polluting Manila Bay, waterways

Anna Mogato

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Gov’t goes after more businesses polluting Manila Bay, waterways

The Laguna Lake Development Authority finds more businesses with environmental violations in Pasay and Manila

MANILA, Philippines – The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) on Tuesday, February 19, continued its crackdown on businesses found to have violated environmental laws in the cities of Pasay and Manila.

LLDA Environmental Regulatory Department Manager Emiterio Hernandez said 5 more cease and desist orders (CDOs), 3 ex-parte orders, and 12 notices of violation (NOVs) were handed out.

One of the businesses is a Jollibee store along Macapagal Avenue, which the LLDA noted is the first branch of the homegrown fast-food giant found to have violated the Clean Water Act. (READ: Jollibee profit zooms by 17.1% in 2018)

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC. The Jollibee Macapagal Biopolis branch is found to have been unlawfully discharging sewage. Photo by Anna Mogato/Rappler

So far, the LLDA has issued 35 NOVs, 16 CDOs, and 12 ex-parte orders – a total of 63 legal orders.

“Majority of what we inspected to have had violations are restaurants, followed by hotels. Restaurants, most of which are in Pasay, those are supposedly connected to Maynilad because there are sewer lines there,” Hernandez said in a press conference.

“Unfortunately, we have seen that not all the wastewater [outlets] are connected to the sewer lines. It’s already a violation of the Clean Water Act and it directly leaks out to the Manila Bay. That’s why we have to issue orders,” he added.

But Hernandez clarified that they do not have the power to shut down business operations as that falls under the jurisdiction of local government units (LGUs).

“We are not closing the whole establishment. We will only close the sources of wastewater. The purpose is not to allow them to discharge wastewater,” he said.

“If we close the facilities then they have no choice but to…treat their water if they want to continue their operation[s].”

Ongoing crackdown

Amid the campaign to rehabilitate Manila Bay, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been issuing NOVs and CDOs as well to businesses releasing untreated wastewater into Manila Bay.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said that aside from shutting down establishments, they will also impose fines. (READ: Manila Bay cleanup: High hopes, murky plans

The Department of the Interior and Local Government also found that 95 LGUs, or 53% of the localities surrounding the bay, were violating environmental laws.

Hernandez said the LLDA’s legal orders are based on inspections, which are conducted on a daily basis.

“Next week or in two weeks, if we do find any [more] violations…we will be issuing [legal orders] again,” he added.

Despite the daily inspections, however, Hernandez said it would be hard to even give a ballpark figure as to how many businesses are violating environmental laws.

CEASE AND DESIST. An LLDA agent collects wastewater samples from Hengfeng Kitchenette, a commissary which delivers food to call centers. The LLDA issued a CDO received by the building manager. Photo by Anna Mogato/Rappler

Chance to comply

Hernandez said businesses on the verge of being issued CDOs but are on track to fix their wastewater discharge may be given a 3-month-long temporary lifting order (TLO) so long as they follow through on their commitments.

One of this is to submit their proposed pollution control programs.

“They have to outline what they will do while they are undergoing rehab, how they have to comply to [avoid being issued a] CDO,” Hernandez said.

“[They also have to appoint a] pollution control officer and submit remedial measures, if they plan to [roll out] a sewage treatment plan or they plan to connect to sewer lines,” he added.

Erring establishments should also pay at least 25% of the daily penalties which will be computed by the LLDA. After the 3-month period, these businesses will be inspected again.

“If they don’t comply…we will have to recommend the imposition of the CDO. If it’s already in the process and it’s just a matter of delay, they can apply for [another] extension,” Hernandez said.

So far, only 3 businesses have applied for a TLO, but only one, Gloria Maris, was able to comply and had its CDO lifted. –

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