January 27 marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Manila Bay. In a historic first, cleaning and dredging operations kicked off a planned 7-year Save Manila Bay program.
Government department heads joined over 5,000 government workers and citizen-volunteers in a grand solidarity march along Roxas Boulevard.
Starting at Quirino Grandstand at about 8 am, the crowd walked together to signify their unity”•with members of the various agencies carrying plastic bags, broomsticks, and other cleaning paraphernalia.
A short program was held at Plaza Rajah Sulayman in the middle of Roxas Boulevard, where the cabinet members including Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Danilo Lim made an inter-agency pact to stand behind the effort.
A long-time environmental protection advocate, Commodore Robert “Bobby” Lim Joseph of the Manila Yacht Club, has been campaigning publicly for Save Manila Bay since late 2018.
Through interviews and media platforms, Cimatu was made aware of this and reached out to MYC’s Lim – and in less than a month phase 1 of 3 phases for Save Manila Bay was launched.
Ground zero for Save Manila Bay is located right inside the yacht club. It is here that a water outflow sees the wastes of a zoo, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, office buildings, malls, and other residential properties in the city pass through it for the past 50 years.
The first-ever cleaning operation involved sucking the dirt out of the outflow, which looked like solid ground because of the years of accumulated wastes on top of the once-pristine waters of Manila Bay.
The dredging machine revealed such ordinary items like car carpets, plastic containers, and other bio- and chemical-products.
The Save Manila Bay initiative aims to see one clean area by the end of 2019, as the different agencies and local governments surrounding Manila Bay each do their part to provide sustainable and actionable solutions.
The budget to Save Manila Bay, approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, stands at P47 billion, to be shared by the government agencies and various stakeholders.