The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is not giving up on the plan to restore the Manila Bay into its former beauty.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said he already directed the Manila Bay Coordinating Council to draft a master plan for the rehabilitation efforts of the historic bay known for its beautiful sunsets.
But Cimatu admits it will be a herculean task as many establishments have already mushroomed around the bay stretching from Metro Manila to nearby provinces like Bulacan and Cavite.
Likewise, it is a big challenge to relocate all 300,000 families currently dwelling around Manila Bay.
Joan Baldon, for instance, is among the residents in Barangay Tangos, Navotas who was given a notice to relocate. Waves slam onto her small house when its high tide but Joan seems unfazed by the risk even at the onset of a tropical storm.
“Kasi malinis ang dagat saka ang mga nakatira sa may tabing dagat. Safe (naman) kapag may darating na masamang panahon,” Joan said.
Loads of garbage are seen scattered by the bay but the scene has become a regular sight for Joan.
Residents, both adults and children, who are used to wading and swimming in the bay are seem immune to the health risks that the obviously contaminated water poses.
According to DENR standards, the coliform level in Manila Bay must not exceed the safe level of 100 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliter (ml) for swimming and other recreational activities.
However, a 2016 study revealed that coliform bacteria level in Manila Bay has spiked to 155 million mpn/100ml which is already harmful to the human body.
“Ang pag-determine how clean Manila Bay is would be the pedal coliform. Kasi ito yung bacteria na nakaka damage ng katawan ng tao habang nagsi-swim. Ito ang basis aside from the solid waste. Marami kang nakikitang plastic dyan at mga iba iba pang garbage pero pag nalinisan mo na iyan, it does not mean na malinis na ang tubig. Nandyan ang coliform, kaya iyan ang gusto nating alisin,’ the DENR Secretary explained.
The agency hopes that before the end of 2019, the quality of water in Manila Bay will somehow improve.
Aside from the DENR, 15 other government agencies will join in to execute the rehabilitation plan on Manila Bay.
Cimatu said he is determined to close all establishments violating environmental laws near and around Manila Bay specifically those who dispose waste water directly to the bay. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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