Maynilad help sought for Manila Bay cleanup

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By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-editor

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked Maynilad Water Services, Inc. to participate in the cleanup of Manila Bay, including the company’s help in bringing quick results within the stretch of land facing the sea, the top official of the company said.

“They are seeking our assistance especially in the technical side. He wants to get immediate impact into the Manila Baywalk — the one kilometer from the Manila Yacht Club up to the [US] Embassy,” Maynilad Chief Executive and President Ramoncito S. Fernandez said in an interview on Monday.

He was referring to Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who has initiated the rehabilitation of the bay, similar to what his office had done to popular island destination Boracay.

“He’s trying to find immediate solutions to prevent or to clean up the discharge of the three points — sa (at the) Manila Yacht [Club], sa may (near) Malate Church, ‘tsaka sa (and at the) US Embassy,” he added.

Mr. Fernandez was answering questions on the sidelines of the 10th International Water Association three-day conference on efficient urban water management at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

He said Mr. Cimatu had mentioned that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had assigned heads of specific esteros to monitor and “police” the creeks that lead to the Manila Bay.

“The secretary also recognizes that the informal settlers in the esteros are very significant contributors to the pollution. And we also emphasized to him and he saw it himself that the water discharged from our [Maynilad] wastewater treatment plants are clean but it is being thrown into a very, very dirty estero,” Mr. Fernandez said.

Separately, Mr. Cimatu said in an interview that he had talks with local government units (LGUs), through the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to address the issue.

“[This is] government-funded, but there will be some, like for example, there will be some companies that will be lending their equipment, providing some assistance to us, in terms of lending some of their experts,” Mr. Cimatu said when asked about Maynilad’s participation in the project.

“The accountability of the local government is they are allowing informal settlers to be staying in esteros,” he said, adding that local officials had been allowing the structures in no-build zones such as esteros, “giving them electricity, giving them water.”

Maynilad is the largest private water concessionaire in the Philippines in terms of customer base. It is the concessionaire of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for the west zone of the greater Manila area.

Maynila Baywalk is within Maynilad’s concession area, which is composed of Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas and Malabon all in Metro Manila, and some portions of the cities of Manila, Quezon and Makati.

The company also serves Cavite City, and the towns of Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario, all in Cavite province.

Ang sinasabi niya (What Mr. Cimatu was saying is) since Roxas Boulevard is under Maynilad concession he is seeking our immediate help… But definitely sabi namin sa kanya (we told him), Manila Bay is coming from San Juan River, from Pasig, from Parañaque River etcetera, so he recognizes that both Manila Water and us are solution providers to the whole concession,” Mr. Fernandez said.

Manila Water Co., Inc., the east zone concessionaire of Metro Manila, provides water and used water services to Mandaluyong, Pasig, San Juan, Marikina, Pateros, Taguig, Makati, the southeastern part of Quezon City and San Andres and Sta. Ana in Manila, including several towns of Rizal province.

“But he also recognizes that LGUs are also very, very important part of the clean up of Manila Bay,” Mr. Fernandez said.