Claiming victory after the successful rehabilitation of Boracay last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking at 2019 with renewed vigor as it tries to enforce environmental laws to sustain the momentum of its goal to preserve the environment.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said they are keen on sending a strong message to the public that the agency is devoted to the protection and preservation of the environment as it doubles as tourism spots in the country.
“This year, I hope to send a strong message to environmental offenders and to the public of our seriousness in implementing and enforcing environmental laws, rules and regulations,” said Cimatu.
The Environment secretary recounted that the rehabilitation of Boracay, which was closed to the public for six months, serves as the agency’s “centerpiece of 2018 accomplishments.”
But they would not stop there, he added.
“In Boracay, our mettle was put to test. We not only passed that test, but also carried over the momentum to other prime ecotourism destinations like El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao Island in Bohol and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro,” Cimatu said.
Now, Cimatu said that they are preparing for their next big target — the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, as President Rodrigo Duterte had already given the go signal for the agency’s proposal.
The President, in a recent Cabinet meeting, green-lighted P47 billion in funds for the proposed rehabilitation of the Manila Bay in a span of seven years — which will be used for cleaning waterways leading to the bay.
“Boracay’s success had spawned demands for replication, prompting the DENR to have the rehabilitation of Manila Bay as our next big target,” Cimatu said.
The DENR’s goals are in line with the guidelines pointed out in one of the 17 targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDG) of which the Daily Tribune is a media partner.
The SDG’s Goal 15 tackles the prevention and significant reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.
The Manila Bay rehabilitation calls for a change in approach considering that its water quality has not improved despite a Supreme Court mandamus for its cleanup issued a decade ago.
“We are putting up a Manila Bay command center, we will get the local government units more involved, and we will be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws, particularly against the discharge of untreated wastewater into the bay,” Cimatu said.