Sheer will to restore

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A man checks his fishing equipment while sitting on garbage polluting the waters of Manila Bay. In a report published on the eve of World Water Day, the UN said the cravings for clean water and electricity were intertwined and could badly strain Earth’s limited resources. AFP

The success of the rehabilitation of the world-famous Boracay island — albeit only within six months — had shown that a solid political will like that of President Rodrigo Duterte can make wonders.

Why, the replenished state of the island is proof that its rehabilitation was really called for, despite the earlier fears of the public that it will affect the country’ tourism and its economy.
Boracay has once again started to flourish as new policies on the island is keeping it clean and a sight to behold once more, contrary to its previous state that earned the ire of the President and tagged it as a cesspool.

Now, Duterte has set his sights to another daunting task — one that is long overdue.
Recently, the President gave the green light to the rehabilitation of one of the country’s most polluted body of water — Manila Bay, allotting at least P47 billion to fund the clean-up that will also be used to look for relocation sites of affected families living near the bay.
The government aims to start the rehabilitation of Manila Bay by 27 January even as Duterte ordered the establishments near the bay to shape up and follow environmental rules or face closure.

“You do something about your waste otherwise I will close you,” the President said in a speech.

And as it turns out, the President’s stance in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay is also within the guidelines of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDG) — which targets the prevention and significant reduction of marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

The UN-SDG — of which the Daily Tribune is a media partner — seeks to ensure the conservation of marine ecosystems — including their biodiversity — in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

There is no completion date for the rehabilitation, but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) hopes to finish it by the end of Duterte’s term in June 2022.
According to the DENR, the 2,000-square kilometer Manila Bay has been found to have extreme levels of coliform and the bacteria came from waste spilled by the esteros or estuaries in Metro Manila.

The long-term goal is to reduce the coliform level to 100 most probable numbers per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml) or low enough for the bay to be safe for swimming and, as of the moment, the level is at 333 million MPN/100ml.

This only goes to show that the Duterte administration is keen on keeping its promise to give Filipinos something to be proud of. What it can do to Boracay, we surely know that it is doable also for Manila Bay.

As we said, it was the sheer political will of the President that is making things happen for the country. This is what we really need, considering that Manila Bay’s pollution is not only an eyesore, but also blights to the mind and body of every citizen of the city.

What the administration needs, on the other hand, is the full support of everyone — allies and oppositions alike — so that we may see in our lifetime the restoration of Manila Bay to its former state — Clean, serene and life-sustaining.

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