By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has created a task force for the speedy rehabilitation and restoration of Manila Bay.
Malacañang on Thursday released to reporters copies of Administrative Order No. 16, which Mr. Duterte signed on Feb. 19, citing the necessity of the participation of national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) “to facilitate the robust and integrated implementation of all rehabilitation and restoration efforts at the Manila Bay.”
The Manila Bay Task Force, according to the document, will be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as chairperson; Secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Tourism (DoT) as vice-chairpersons; and Secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Health (DoH), and the Department of Agriculture (DA), among others, as members.
The President’s order states that the task force members “may designate an alternate, who must be next in rank to the principal member and must be fully authorized to decide for and on their behalf, to represent their respective offices in the task force.”
Among the powers and functions of the task force are to enforce relevant laws and regulations “to ensure the complete rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of the Manila Bay” and require all government facilities, subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers, hotels, sports and recreational facilities, hospitals, market places, public buildings, and industrial complexes and other similar establishments, including households, “to immediately connect existing sewage lines to available sewerage treatment plants (STPs), or to construct individual STPs.”
The task force can also impose fines, penalties, and other administrative sanctions to compel compliance “whenever applicable.”
Moreover, the task force, in collaboration with the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, National Housing Authority, and affected LGUs, will prepare and commence “within 60 days from the issuance of this order” the implementation of a comprehensive plan for the massive relocation of informal settlers, especially in the areas along the Manila Bay Region.
The said agencies and the task force will identify suitable relocation sites, determine strategies for the economic and social integration of informal settlers in the area, and formulate long-term solutions to address ongoing migration into the Manila Bay Region.
The task force will also prepare a comprehensive plan for expediting the local sanitation program of LGUs within the Manila Bay Region by 2026 and fast-track compliance with the Writ of Continuing Mandamus issued by the Supreme Court.