By Erma Edera
The ‘Battle for Manila Bay’ is on.
The rehabilitation of Manila Bay officially started today as around 5,000 volunteers from different sectoral groups gathered at the Quirino Grandstand and participated in the solidarity walk to Manila Bay.
Simultaneous cleanup activities were also held in Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Navotas, Las Piñas, Cavite and Bulacan, which have estuaries that flow into the capital’s bay.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who led the program said that he is deeply impressed with the number of people who joined today’s program.
He was also joined by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Acting Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources also handed out cease and desist orders to at least four major establishments which have violated environmental laws.
“We cannot afford to prolong this cleanup activity because this has long been neglected. Ang pinakamahirap sa rehab ay ang pag-sustain nito. Manila Bay is not a lost cause,” Cimatu said.
He also said that he will order informal settlers living in waterways to leave and ask them if they want to go home to their provinces.
The facilities for wastewater discharge will be closed following the cease and desist order, not necessarily the establishment, DENR said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said that it took 10 years for the government agencies to finally rehabilitate the Manila Bay after the Supreme Court issued a mandamus to clean up and save the bay
The rehabilitation effort, dubbed as the “Battle for Manila Bay,” reinforces a Supreme Court continuing mandamus, which compels government agencies and local governments to clean up the bay.