The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is preparing to embark on a “highly ambitious and more complicated” endeavor in the restoration of the Manila Bay to its pristine state.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said that Manila Bay is known for having one of the most beautiful sunsets but its waters are considered the most polluted due to domestic sewage, toxic industrial effluents from factories and shipping operations, and leachate from garbage dumps.
He said he was keen to have Manila Bay rehabilitated, restored and maintained to a level fit for swimming, skin diving and other contact forms of recreation.
“We are preparing for an all-out strategy to bring the coliform concentration in Manila Bay to a safe level so that millions of people who reside in the bay region and neighboring areas will enjoy its waters and marine resources without fear of getting sick,” he said.
Cimatu said they want to replicate what has been achieved in Boracay Island once described as a “cesspool” by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Cimatu, the government would show the same level of political will in cleaning up the bay spanning three major regions—Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon or Region 4A “as it did in Boracay, a tiny island in Western Visayas.”
A 2017 report by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau showed that the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay reached as high as 330 million most probable number per 100 milliliters. The safe level is only 100 MPN/100ml.
The DENR chief said part of their strategy is to ensure compliance with environmental laws among all local government units surrounding Manila Bay.
“I am calling on all LGUs to step up their efforts in cleaning up the bay because it is their own constituents who will benefit (from a rehabilitated Manila Bay),” he said.
A Manila Bay command center under the DENR’s National Capital Region office would be created to oversee the zonal operations of four field offices to be set up in six coastal cities in the metro—Malabon-Navotas, Manila, Pasay-Parañaque, and Las Piñas.
To address problems on human waste arising from the presence of informal settlers along the bay, the DENR is looking at technologies that would treat water of pollutants, whether directly discharged into the bay or through toilets.
Cimatu said the DENR would also seek assistance from law enforcement agencies in going after violators of environmental laws, especially those who discharge untreated wastewater into the bay.
In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a continuing writ of mandamus ordering 13 government agencies to clean up Manila Bay and restore its water quality to Class SB, or safe for recreational activities, such as swimming.