Manila Bay: Philippine gov’t clamps down on polluters in next big clean-up project

World Today

The Philippines closed a popular tourist Island of Boracay for six-months last year to conduct a massive clean-up operation along its pristine beaches.

The success has authorities setting their sights on another coastline: Manila Bay

But, as CGTN’s Barnaby Lo reports, pending reclamation projects, have raised doubts about the latest effort

After declaring success in the restoration of popular tourist destination Boracay’s clear blue waters­ the Philippine government said Manila Bay is next.

Some 5,000 volunteers kicked off the massive cleanup project, and the result was Instagram-worthy. This, however, is just a tiny fraction of the almost 200-kilometer coastline, and rehabilitation work is going to take more than just picking up trash.

“What we will do is we’ll settle with it point by point, from A to Z,” said Environment Undersecretary Benny Antipoda. “So start from the source, going to the canals, creeks, rivers, then Manila Bay.”

Among the first casualties were business establishments dumping wastewater directly into the public drainage system. CGTN followed authorities for a day as they served notices and cut access of violators to both sources of water and sewer lines.

Authorities are have served a closure order to a branch of Jollibee fast food store. Jollibee, of course, is one of the biggest companies in the Philippines and authorities are showing they do not care how big or small the establishment is.

More than 200,000 informal settlers may also be displaced, but not until they can be provided a decent relocation site, according to the environment department.

But while virtually no one opposes the idea of revitalizing the Manila Bay area, there are concerns current efforts will not amount to anything if pending reclamation projects move forward.

“That is the challenge we pose particularly to the government and to President Duterte,” said Congressman Ariel Casilao “If you and this government are really serious in rehabilitating Manila Bay, then you should reject and not allow any reclamation within the Manila Bay because no study can refute these negative impacts of reclamation.”

Environment officials could not categorically state whether reclamation projects are to proceed or not, at least not yet, but they said reviving Manila Bay’s old glory could take years, and they can only hope succeeding administrations would build on what they’ve started.