The government on Monday told local government units not to issue building permits to establishments unless they have wastewater treatment facilities that conform with environmental laws and policies.
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“No new business permit should be issued unless business owners have obtained the necessary environmental clearances and permits such as discharge permits and environmental sanitation certificates prescribed by law,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
“Let us learn from the lessons of Manila Bay which became a ‘gigantic septic tank’ and Boracay which was described as ‘a virtual cesspool.’ Local governments should already put their foot down by not issuing business permits to non-compliant establishments,” Año said.
In a memorandum circular, Año said LGUs should ensure that all residential, private, and public establishments in their areas have a proper sewage treatment and septic waste management system.
“Local governments should compel all residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and government establishments in their jurisdiction to have their own hygienic septic tanks or wastewater treatment facility,” he said.
Año also said that LGUs must also see to it that all septic tanks are accessible and that no wastewater will be discharged to waterways without proper treatment.
For establishments with inaccessible or non-compliant septic tanks, he said they may opt to remodel or restructure it, connect to existing sewer lines of water utilities, or construct communal or shared septic tanks.
Food establishments discharging wastes are also encouraged to have a working and properly maintained oil and grease trap installed in their respective areas.
In the same directive, Año cited the importance of desludging septic tanks at least once every five years.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Monday said a coral discovery gives hope for Manila Bay’s revival.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the discovery of live coral cover within the waters of Manila Bay buoyed hopes that the heavily polluted water body could still be restored to its pristine condition.
Cimatu, inter-agency Manila Bay task force head, said recent findings that coral reefs are still thriving in many parts of the bay give government more reason to proceed with the rehabilitation.
“With the vibrant underwater life still teeming in several areas in Manila Bay, there is hope that we can still revive it to what it used to be,” he said.
The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, DENR’s research arm of the DENR, recently conducted an inventory of the coral ecosystems within Manila Bay and found that many of them are thriving despite environmental and human pressures.
ERDB supervising science research specialist Jose Isidro Michael Padin said majority of the coral cover is found in Corregidor and Caballo Islands in Cavite.
“Nearly 72 percent of the estimated reef area is found in Cavite. The reef sites in Maragondon and few stations in Corregidor and Caballo Islands had fair to good live coral cover,” he said.
He, however, said these reefs are continually threatened by sedimentation, nutrient contamination, reduced water clarity, and high fishing pressure.
Based on the coastal resource map prepared by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, Manila Bay’s coral cover spans 293.68 hectares, but the data do not yet include that of Mariveles in Bataan.
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