The seaside promenade along Manila Bay is a must-see destination among tourists and the general public because of its spectacular sunset view.
But it must not be used as a staging ground for any swimming or recreation activity, until Manila Bay is completely rehabilitated and declared pollution-free.
Cleaning up Manila Bay, including the two-kilometer promenade area that stretches from the US Embassy near Rizal Park up to the Cultural Center of the Philippines just past the Manila Yacht Club, may take years before it can be declared safe for swimming.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is closing the Manila Baywalk for swimming activity at least for the next six months by installing a perimeter fence along the beachfront.
This stretch of coastline is understandably popular among slum dwellers and the poor in Metro Manila because of its proximity.
Piles of trash in the area and heavy pollution, however, have prevented the public from enjoying the seaside promenade and dipping into the water.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said while fecal coliform count in the swimming area of Manila Bay had improved to 7.5 million most probable number per 100 millimeters from 330 million mpn before the start of the cleanup drive, it was still far from being safe.
The standard coliform level for coastal waters safe for swimming and other similar recreational activities is at only 100 mpn/100ml.
The rehabilitation of Manila Bay will not be an easy task because it will require the cooperation of several local government units of Laguna, Cavite and Metro Manila in the south to the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan in the north.
Thousands of commercial establishments operating along Laguna de Bay, Pasig River and other estuaries that empty into Manila Bay will also have to be policed to assure the cleanup.
Manila Bay has become an ecological disaster after many establishments and informal settlers along Metro Manila's waterways dumped untreated water and waste into the tributaries that ended up in the bay.
The cleanup job is one environmental task that should receive a status of national significance, similar to vital energy projects defined by Executive Order No. 30.