By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
Some 5,000 volunteers gathered on Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila for a solidarity walk to signify the start of the Manila Bay rehabilitation efforts.
Multi-sectorial groups, stakeholders, officials and personnel of government agencies, religious groups, academe, students, civic and other non-government organizations attended the event to show their cooperation in the Save Manila Bay project.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu led the walk, together with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Acting Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Danilo Lim.
The walk ended at the Rajah Sulayman Park, where the officials gave their keynote messages and urged the public to further support the project.
In his speech, Lim defined the rehabilitation of Manila Bay as a ‘Herculean’ task as it requires the effort of various government agencies and the public.
“Sa amin sa MMDA kasama sa aming mandatos ang paglilinis ng waterways and sewerages, pero ngayon nagsasama tayong lahat, naniniwala ako wala nang dahilan para hindi tayo magtagumpay sa pagbabalik ng linis, kaayusan at kagandahan ng (It is included in the mandate of MMDA to clean the waterways and sewerages, but now that we’re all together, I believe there is no reason for us not to succeed in bringing back the cleanliness, order and beauty of Manila Bay,” he said.
For his part, Villar said the event showed President Rodrigo Duterte’s firm decision and strong political will to clean the popular bay.
“We will allocate heavy equipment, we will procure a new technology, trash skimmers — this will collect garbage and full-time solely allocated for Manila Bay. This is just the beginning and you can expect us to allocate a bigger budget for Manila Bay,” he said.
Meanwhile, Año said the rehabilitation of Manila Bay covers 190 kilometers involving three regions, 5,700 barangays and 178 local government units.
“Sa DILG, bubusisiin natin ang establishments dito kung sila ay sumusunod sa (At DILG, we will scrutinize the establishments if they are in compliance with the) Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Solid Waste Management Act. Every week the barangay captains will conduct cleanup in their respective areas where there are rivers leading to Manila Bay,” he said.
Año clarified that establishments will be given enough time to correct their lapses but they will be shut down or sued if unable to comply within deadlines.
For his part, Cimatu urged the public to take part in cleaning up Manila Bay.
“As I declare the start of Battle for Manila Bay, I direct the DENR and the LLDA (Laguna Lake Development Authority) to issue a cease and desist order for those who violated environmental laws here in Manila Bay,” he added.
Cimatu led an inspection of the food establishments circling the bay and the three drainage canals leading to it right after the event.(PNA)