Not one among the previous five administrations ever lifted a finger to alleviate Manila Bay’s degradation over three decades. None of the five presidents did even a lip-service to address this environmental issue.
It was not until the Duterte administration that true voices of the people were heard, crying out for government action to breathe life into the historic Manila Bay.
Neither the outspoken progressive groups ever said anything about it, and now openly protesting the launching of “Battle for Manila Bay” rehabilitation program.
In my humble opinion, the left-wing group’s argument against the bay’s rehabilitation is simply flimsy and frivolous, making it sound like anti-poor.
To say that said undertaking should be canceled or postponed until after informal settlers are “consulted” and awarded relocation is unreasonable and counter-productive.
This squatter problem in our country is worse than anywhere in the world. Anyone can put up a house just anywhere they want, be it along the coast of Manila Bay or esteros, which violates the Clean Water Act of 2004.
And before we clear up the water pollution, Makabayan insists we have to consult the people who make a lucrative business out of it, renting out rooms in squatter areas.
For all we know, many of the illegal occupants had been given relocation and cash assistance to various areas outside Metro Manila, like Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna, but they come back to squat wherever they choose to.
Makabayan also points out the murky waters of Manila Bay are a source of livelihood for scavengers who gather recyclable materials washed ashore. And for that reason, we should not clean the mess up.
I often interview some Makabayan bloc representatives in Congress and I respect their opinion. I beg to differ on this issue and I tend to agree with DILG Asst. Sec. Jonathan Malaya’s observation that the leftists are unfairly politicizing the environmental issue on Manila Bay.
Unfortunately for them, their alarmist assertions have failed to gather public support ahead of an election campaign.
They were quick to accuse the government of mounting the bay cleanup as a prelude to expanded reclamation projects. This is a total lie—nothing but fake news.
I suggest the Makabayan leaders and supporters, instead of grandstanding, chill out and enjoy a better Manila Bay against the backdrop of its beautiful sunset.