By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hopeful that the Navotas City’s Bangkulasi River, one of the filthy water bodies that drain into Manila Bay, will see drastic improvements by the end of the year.
“Cleaning up the Bangkulasi River, which is part of the Malabon-Navotas River System, is an essential part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program because the river system directly empties into the historic bay,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu pointed out.
He ordered the DENR team assigned to the river system to “produce drastic improvements by December this year” in order to reduce the fecal coliform levels in Manila Bay by yearend.
The team, according to DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda, would “aim to prevent more wastes from flowing into the river system before cleaning it.”
“We are planning to use some interventions to prevent wastes from coming back to the river,” he said.
Antiporda also disclosed that the DENR will be issuing cease and desist orders against establishments that have no proper sewage treatment plants (STPs.)
However, he pointed out that the clampdown was “not about destroying the economy of Navotas, but about waking them up to say that Navotas is a model city.”
“The Inter-Agency Task Force will also be providing the businesses with technical assistance to help them come up with solutions on how to go about with their problems on STPs,” he said.
Unlike in Boracay where businesses had to wait for months before they could operate again, Antiporda said business owners in Navotas could “proactively coordinate with the service providers and offer solutions when needed.”
“Once the DENR is able to effectively deliver its message, other establishments surrounding the area will take proactive steps to ensure they will not be affected by the issuance of cease and desist orders,” he added.
Antiporda said that a one-stop shop for Navotas business owners will be set up to help them comply with the requirements provided under various environmental laws.
DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in the National Capital Region and DENR North Field Office will also help expedite the processing of environmental permits by businesses, he added.