President Rodrigo Duterte will issue an executive order to start the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay, Malacañang said on Tuesday after the President reportedly plans to use the multi-billion-peso road user’s tax to fund the cleanup.
Duterte warned establishments along Manila Bay that he will not hesitate to order their closure if they challenge his directive.
“Whether they like it or not, all of them, including the hotels, must put water treatment there for the waste discharge or else I will shut them down,” the President said.
“Do not challenge me. If we do not have tourists, so be it. We are not going to die without them. You do something about your waste there, or we will have closed down. That’s for sure,” he added.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte and his Cabinet planned to use the revenue of the special road funds to finance the hospital needs and the clean-up of the polluted waters of Manila Bay.
The Palace official said that portion of the road user’s tax, as ordered by Duterte, will also be used to fund the flood control projects of areas in Bicol gravely hit by Tropical Depression “Usman.”
“The reason why President Duterte wants the Road Board abolished is for the funds from road user’s tax be placed to the national treasury. Congress will then enact another law appropriating the funds there to the specific purposes I mentioned,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Alhough the Cabinet did not lay out a specific timeline for the rehabilitation process of Boracay, Panelo said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu hoped to finish the cleanup of the Manila Bay, including the rivers and estuaries, by the end of Duterte’s presidency.
“There is no specific. He [Cimatu] said it depends. What is important to the President is that we will cleanup this Manila Bay,” he said.
Asked if the government will warn several stakeholders and establishments operating near Manila Bay, the Palace official said: “No, we don’t have to warn them. They know the policy of the government.”
“Well, in Boracay, there are a lot of stakeholders, but it required the political will of the President and he will do it. To my mind, what is very important is finally we are going to start cleaning Manila Bay. That’s important there, we are starting it,” Panelo said.
“The policy of the government is if you violate certain regulations, then you have to pay for that. Whatever we did in Boracay, we will apply it to all,” Panelo added.
Last month, Cimatu described the cleanup of the polluted coastal waters as a “difficult challenge.”
The DENR chief said they have divided the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay into four areas: Metro Manila and the provinces of Cavite, Bulacan, and Bataan.
The department also plans to check on establishments, factories and creeks that dispose of wastewater into the bay, stressing that they are determined to close establishment found violating environmental laws.
The DENR estimates that some P47 billion will be needed to clean the entirety of Manila Bay.
The planned rehabilitation will also require the relocation of thousands of illegal settlers, noting that their household waste contributes to 70 percent of pollution in the area.