THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned of the potential closure of establishments along the shores of Manila Bay that do not comply with environmental regulations, Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mr. Cimatu said: “Those establishments that are right on the water will be closed. I will recommend to the local government that in the first place, they shouldn’t be given business permits.”
Mr. Cimatu said the extent of Manila Bay pollution was about 115 million most probable number (MPN) fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliter (ml) in 2016, which DENR wants to reduce in 2019.
Mr. Cimatu added that the metric will continue to rise if the DENR does not pursue the relocation of informal settlers.
He said the presence of garbage in the water is a separate issue.
“The determinant for Manila Bay water cleanliness is fecal coliform content, because this is the organism that can harm swimmers. This is the basis, apart from solid waste,” he said, adding that once visible garbage is removed the issue is lowering the coliform content.
“I prefer to reduce (coliform) to the condition where people can swim… Either we resort to a chemical treatment or we let nature heal itself,” Mr. Cimatu said.
Mr. Cimatu added that he also wants a Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to take charge of the problem in Metro Manila.
He said that there are around 300,000 informal settler families in the area and the DENR has limited capability in effecting relocations. His priority is those living beside the water.
Mr. Cimatu said that cleaning Manila Bay will be a tougher job than cleaning up Boracay.
According to Mr. Cimatu, the remedy implemented in Boracay — requiring establishments to have their own drainage systems — must be implemented in the Manila Bay area.
“Just like what happened in Boracay, even it is already clean, establishments need to have discharge permit for them to be in compliance. Otherwise, we will file charges” Mr. Cimatu said. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio