Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Tuesday urged informal settler families living along waterways to do their share in the Manila Bay rehabilitation through the availment of the government’s relocation program.
He cited the importance of the relocation of the informal settlers, saying such would hasten ongoing efforts to rehabilitate polluted creeks and other waterways draining into the historic bay.
He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is committed to make Manila Bay “swimmable” by December this year.
He made the appeal when he and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso inspected last weekend an area along Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate that used to be occupied by 50 informal settler families.
The area was cleared of illegal structures after the families agreed to transfer to a relocation site of the National Housing Authority in Caloocan City’s Tala district.
At least 20 other informal settler families have been left behind 20 along the waterways, which is one of Manila’s filthiest esteros.
“We would like to appeal to the remaining 20 families to comply with the requirements of the NHA, so that we can already move them to their new location, to a better place. Not atop the water canals,” Cimatu said.
He noted the significant improvement in Estero de San Antonio Abad since majority of the 71 informal settler families along the creek have left and their houses demolished by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The fecal coliform level in the estero has “dramatically gone down,” he said.
Despite such, he said the cleanup efforts shall continue until the coliform bacteria count reaches acceptable level.
He said he would continue to coordinate with the Manila city government for the rehabilitation of the Malate creek and other esteros leading to the Manila Bay.
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