By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The rehabilitation of Manila Bay will be in three phases in the next seven years, which means this will go beyond the term of President Duterte who vowed to make the bay as clean as the world-famous Boracay island.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the Manila Bay rehab will involve cleanup and water quality improvement, rehabilitation and resettlement, and education and sustainment.
Under Phase 1, the concerned agencies will cleanup designated waterways (esteros), reduce fecal coliform level and toxic charges from houses and establishments, and require sewage treatment plants for government, commercial, industrial, and educational establishments; inspect and repair leaks in old sewer lines; provide temporary sanitation facilities to informal settlers residing along esteros and shorelines pending relocation; implement solid waste management; and plan the relocation of informal settlers.
Phase 2 of the program will involve the rehabilitation of old sewer lines in the National Capital Region, continuing relocation of informal settlers, and ensuring completion of 340 million liters per day (MLD) of Maynilad and Manila Water by 2022.
The final phase will be the continuing education and information campaign, sustained law enforcement and monitoring, and fast tracking or earlier completion of the sewerage system in Metro Manila from 2026 to 2037.
DENR said only 15 percent or 2.4 million out of 16.3 million of the water-served population in Metro Manila are connected to a sewerage system and about 3.84 percent or 187,000 out of 4,863,938 of water-served population outside Metro Manila are provided with sanitation services.
Meanwhile, almost 233,000 informal settler families are residing along the waterways of Manila Bay, directly discharging their wastes to the water.
“The ‘battle for Manila Bay’ is one battle that will be won not with force or arms but with the firm resolve to bring Manila Bay back to life,” Cimatu said.
“With the commitment and determination of every Filipino to do his share in this rehabilitation effort, we have already won the battle for Manila Bay,” he added.