Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Tuesday urged mayors to contribute to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay by cleaning up their rivers and esteros.
“Cleanup may take one to three years, but relocation will take political will,” Cimatu said.
There are at least 220,000 squatters along the canals leading to Manila Bay, but only about 10,000 of them could be relocated in a year, Cimatu said.
He said the 178 mayors of the cities and municipalities surrounding Manila Bay must do their share in the bay’s rehabilitation.
“We have to clean all 47 esteros and all the rivers that contribute to the pollution of Manila Bay. Nobody should be left alone, we will one by one ask them [to help],” he said.
During last Monday’s Local Executives’ Forum on the Manila Bay Cleanup, Rehabilitation and Preservation Program, Cimatu reminded local officials to implement environmental laws and clear the waterways of squatters.
He urged the local governments to identify the sources of water pollution in their areas and do something about it.
“Once we clean the esteros and rivers, garbage will not go out to Manila Bay. We’ll make it a point that the water that reaches Manila Bay is clean,” he said.
“Even if it takes us one, two or three years to clean these rivers, we have to do it.”
Cimatu cited Tullahan River, the longest river that drains into Manila Bay, and Vitas in Tondo, Manila.
The Pasig and Parañaque rivers must also be cleaned, Cimatu said, adding garbage is one of the culprits in the pollution of the esteros and rivers.
He appealed to the local executives to ensure that their garbage collection contractors comply with conditions in their contracts, including adherence to environmental laws.