Environment Health News

Trash in Manila Bay*

APART from its captivating multicolored sunsets and being considered as one of the world’s greatest harbors, Manila Bay has been known historically for being the site of the mock naval battle of the Spanish-American War in May 1898.

However, its natural beauty and historic importance has been ruined in the past years by the sight of plastic and all kinds of garbage in its waters plus the unpleasant smell of sewage in its surroundings.

President Duterte has threatened to close the establishments in the vicinity of Manila Bay if they continue doing nothing to stop its seemingly never-ending pollution. Everyone knows the President has done it before with the tourist destination Boracay which he called a cesspool and was closed for six months last year while undergoing a major cleanup.

For the poor, Manila Bay is their own version of Boracay where they can spend their afternoons and evenings swimming like the rich and famous, totally unmindful of the diseases they can acquire due to its unsanitary waters.

If Duterte truly wants to improve and rehabilitate the quality of Manila Bay’s water, the government should not only concentrate on establishments in the area but relocate about 40,000 informal settler families living along the shores.

According to Senate inquiry reports, fecal coliform levels increased from one million MPN/100 ml (most probable number/100 milliliters) to 5 MPN/100 ml since 1999. It added that about 90 percent of the pollution is from domestic waste which comes not only from nearby areas but from 16 major river systems that drain into the bay.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) intends to reduce the coliform level to less than 270 MPN by December 2019. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said they are giving establishments three months to put up their own sewage treatment plants (STPs) and cannot discharge their wastewater in the esteros.

Cimatu was disappointed to learn that the water sample from Estero de San Antonio, one of the dirtiest esteros connected to Manila Bay, contained 1.3 billion MPN/100 milliliter. They also discovered that that the Manila Zoo, which houses more than 600 animals, was discharging its waste water in that estero.

It would be hard to expect that people who spent most of their lives treating Manila Bay like their own private toilet could change their ways in an instant. Relocate them first and teach them discipline later. On the other hand, establishments would easily follow what the government tells them if they want to continue operations.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/

*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.


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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

One Reply to “Trash in Manila Bay*

  1. As I mentioned few years ago, I had even tag the photo of the squatters living in Parola (Light house) in North Harbor which is one of the sources of pollution in Manila bay. If those squatters could not pull out in that area, the government could not rehabilitate and attain the program intended. That area is also a hiding place of many notorious criminals punishable by law.
    Riding the passenger vessels out and in bound during the day time, the view of the place is horrible and disgusting for the tourist which is supposed to be our pride scenery instead it is discouraging. I feel very much sorry for those squatters residing there, mostly from the provinces who would like to survive in Manila. They deserved to be relocated in a descent place. If there is no corruption these would not be experienced by our kababayan. President Duterte is only our hope to rectify with this unfortunate situation of our kababayan living in Parola (Light house) in North harbor.

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