The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that cleaning up and rehabilitating Manila Bay is “not an impossible mission” if citizens would do their share.
DENR Undersecretary Benny D. Antiporda said that the lack of discipline among Filipinos could be the single biggest obstacle to the success of the rehabilitation.
“Iisa lang ang nakikita naming balakid: ang kakulangan ng disiplina ng taumbayan,” Antiporda said in an interview. “Ang kailangan natin ay disiplina.”
He added: “We are not only cleaning up the bay. Nililigtas natin ang isang bagay na mamamatay dahil kung hindi ay mas maraming mamamatay na tao.”
In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a mandamus directing the DENR and 12 other government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay and to restore and maintain its water quality to a level fit for swimming and other contact recreation.
Antiporda lamented how the efforts of mandamus agencies to clean up the bay have not been visible or felt during the 10 years the high court directive has been in effect.
He attributed previous unsuccessful efforts to “weak coordination and collaboration among mandamus agencies.”
This time, however, Antiporda said the DENR and other government agencies have the full backing of President Duterte, allowing them to effectively enforce the law and ensure compliance of local government units with their mandate towards environmental protection.
He added that the DENR is coming up with interventions that would hasten the improvement of Manila Bay’s water quality.
At the same time, Antiporda allayed fears that the rehabilitation would result in loss of jobs and livelihood within the Manila Bay area.
“Ang DENR ay hindi berdugo. We are here to prevent pollution from making it into the sea,” he stated.
While he acknowledged that the cleanup would not be completed under Duterte’s term, Antiporda said the public could expect “a drastic change that would give the next administration no choice but to carry on current efforts.”