After Boracay, DENR eyes rehabilitating Manila Bay

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is planning to restore Manila Bay to its "pristine" state, using the government's strategy when it rehabilitated the island of Boracay.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Sunday, December 16, that he is determined to rehabilitate the polluted bay in Metro Manila, so that Filipinos may once again safely swim and do other forms of recreation there. (INFOGRAPHIC: Why Manila Bay matters)

"We are preparing for an all-out strategy to bring the coliform concentration in Manila Bay to a safe level so that millions of people who reside in the bay region and neighboring areas will enjoy its waters and marine resources without fear of getting sick," said Cimatu.

He added that the government "will show the same level of political will" in cleaning up Manila Bay as it did during the rehabilitation of Boracay.

The world-famous tourist hotspot was shut down for 6 months after President Rodrigo Duterte called it a "cesspool" and ordered its closure. Boracay was reopened to tourists on October 26. (READ: Boracay: Paradise reborn?)

While known for its beautiful sunsets, Manila Bay has grown notorious for its floating patches of garbage and its stinky waters polluted by toxic waste. (IN PHOTOS: The state of Manila Bay

DENR Calabarzon Executive Director Ipat Luna said 90% of the pollution in Manila Bay comes from domestic waste. Calabarzon is also considered a major contributor, as its trash directly go into Laguna Lake, then end up in Manila Bay.

"We are asking the LGUs (local government units) to help us enforce against those staying in the easements, kasi 'pag napigilan natin sila – kahit patrolin mo 'yan araw-araw, mas maliit pa rin ang gagastusin mo kaysa hanapan mo sila ng bahay.... Mas malaking mahal 'pag ire-relocate mo na sila," said Luna.

(We are asking the LGUs to help us enforce against those staying in the easements, because if we're able to prevent them from throwing their trash – even if we patrol the areas every day, we'll still be spending less versus finding new homes for them.... It'll be much more expensive to relocate them.)

Cimatu also reminded LGUs to comply with environmental laws to help rehabilitate Manila Bay.

"I am calling on all LGUs to step up their efforts in cleaning up the bay because it is their own constituents who will benefit," the DENR chief said. – with reports from Tina Ganzon Ozaeta/Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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