The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported significant improvements in the water quality of major outfalls directly draining into Manila Bay a year after the pollution-challenged water body started undergoing rehabilitation.
“There is reason to celebrate because a year after we launched the ‘Battle for Manila Bay,’ we have recorded significant improvements in the water quality from major drainage outfalls,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, who chairs the Manila Bay Task Force, declared.
This, as Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta urged the 13 government agencies tasked with the rehabilitation of the Manila May to “take a coordinated stance” amid the extreme necessity for all concerned executive departments and agencies to immediately take action.
Speaking at the “Battle for Manila Bay: Second Manila Bay Task Force Principals’ Meeting and Conference” held on 23 January at The Manila Diamond Hotel, Peralta mentioned the case of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority vs Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, wherein the Court introduced into jurisprudence the legal concept of “continuing mandamus,” which has become “the cornerstone of most environmental cases in the Philippines.”
“Continuing mandamus” is a writ issued by a court in an environmental case directing any agency or instrumentality of the government or officer thereof to perform an act or series of acts decreed by final judgment which shall remain effective until judgment is fully satisfied.
Before the Manila Bay rehabilitation kicked off on 26 January last year, the DENR recorded extremely high fecal coliform levels from major Manila Bay outfalls.
But now, Cimatu said the most recent data from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) showed that the coliform levels have been “drastically decreased.”
Citing EMB data, Cimatu said the fecal coliform count at the Padre Faura outfall is now down to 920,000 most probable number per 100 milliliter (mpn/100ml) from its pre-rehab record of 7.21 million mpn/100ml.
From 35 million mpn/100ml recorded before the rehabilitation began, Cimatu said the coliform level at the Raja Soliman/Remedios drainage outfall across Aristocrat Restaurant went down to 11 million mpn/100ml.
Despite these improvements, however, Cimatu said more need to be done especially since the standard fecal coliform level in Manila Bay is 100 mpn/100ml based on its classification as “Class SB” coastal and marine water.
Meanwhile, Bacoor City in Cavite received a gold award from the Department of the Interior and Local Government in recognition of its significant accomplishments in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to rehabilitate Manila Bay.
Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla noted the failure of previous efforts to clean up the Manila Bay despite around P50 billion being spent for past projects.
“We think that reclamation will be the best long-term solution particularly in the Cavitex area,” Revilla said.
Mr. Duterte’s order for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, as well as the National Economic Development Authority’s “Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan,” identified major actions necessary for the success of the Manila Bay cleanup drive.
Last year, over 10,000 volunteers joined a massive cleanup activity along Roxas Boulevard in Manila and other areas in the bay region as a kickoff to the rehabilitation project dubbed as “Battle for Manila Bay,” which enjoys the full backing of the Duterte administration.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has allocated P42.95 billion for the implementation of the Manila Bay rehabilitation project within three years, and at least 13 government agencies are working together to carry out the mission.