DENR discovers four culverts draining untreated water directly into Manila Bay

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021   •   679

MANILA, Philippines — A culvert or drainage pipe was discovered hidden behind boulders at station 640 along Manila Bay’s baywalk area on Roxas Boulevard was found to be discharging untreated wastewater directly into the bay.

Based on water analysis, fecal coliform count in the area was significantly high at 50 million most probable number per 100 milliliters.

After further inspection, three more alleged culverts along the baywalk were discovered. 

Pipes were found beside the Remedios drainage outfall across Aristocrat restaurant, Station 240 beside the Padre Faura outfall, and near the Estero San Antonio de Abad outfall.

“Ang lakas ng tubig. Bumubulwak (Water pressure was really strong),” said Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the immediate plugging of the illegal outfalls, the establishment of engineering interventions, and the strict enforcement of environmental laws in the bay.

“Noong tine-trace na namin yung existing pipes ng DPWH, ng MMDA at saka ng local government units, itong na-discover namin na illegal pipe wala doon sa records nila,” Leones noted.

(When we were tracing the origin of the existing pipes of the DPWH, the MMDA, and the local government units, none of these illegal pipes were in their records.)

“So the Secretary (Cimatu) has decided na i-seal na namin yung mga illegal pipes and mga culverts. And then let’s see kung saan lalabas yung mga tubig na yan na suppose to be doon lumalabas sa illegal pipes na na-identify na namin,” he added.

(So the Secretary has decided to seal those illegal pipes and culverts and then let’s see where the water would go out aside from the illegal pipes that we have identified.)

Leones said that before they traced the illegal pipes, the coliform level in Manila Bay has already improved from billions of micrograms per normal cubic meters to only thousands.

It just needs to be improved to 100mpn for it to be safe for swimming. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Wildlife conservation must continue amid pandemic —DENR

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated the need to continue wildlife conservation even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This was after a nesting sea turtle was sighted in Zambales province. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also reported several sightings of nesting sea turtles were in other areas.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” he said.

He added that the sightings prove that the efforts of conserving wildlife was not in vain.

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City also received a report that sea turtles laying eggs were spotted at a beach resort in San Antonio town.

The DENR said they will monitor the situation of these nests to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.  AAC

DENR eyes restoring original width of Marikina River to reduce flood risk

Marje Pelayo   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Marikina River must be widened to reduce flood risk.

During a recent visit to Marikina City, Cimatu recommended the widening of Marikina River to increase its flood carrying capacity.

The recommendation comes after Marikina City and nearby areas were submerged in flood waters during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

The environment chief noticed that the river channel was narrow, prompting him to call for strict imposition of easement requirements pertaining to rivers.

Presidential Decree 1067, also known as the Philippine Water Code, requires riverbank easement of three meters in urban areas.

As part of the planned rehabilitation, Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will evaluate the changes in the width of Marikina River based on the data from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NMRIA).

“We will look into the old river and how the river became narrower through the years,” Cimatu said. 

“We will restore the original width of the Marikina River,” he added.

At the same time, Cimatu said the DENR will look into the complaint of the Marikina City government over the alleged reclamation project along the river, which has not secured an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the environment department.

“Definitely, there should be no reclamation. I will really implement the easement law,” he said.

Cimatu said he has directed the DENR-National Capital Region office to look into the non-issuance of ECC, the reclamation, and the retaining wall built along the riverbanks.

DENR sends team to investigate lahar flow in Guinobatan, Albay

Marje Pelayo   •   November 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered an investigation into the incident of lahar flow in Barangay San Francisco in Guinobatan, Albay which is being associated with quarry operations at the foot of Mount Mayon.

A team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is on its way to the site to assess and delve into what caused the incident. 

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DENR and other concerned agencies to investigate the matter as residents blame the quarrying activities in the area for the lahar flow.

According to Environment Undersecretary Jones Leones, around 100 quarry operators are now under investigation. 

Some of them acquired their permits from the local government unit (LGU) while others are said to not have a permit to operate at all, the official noted.

The agency targets to complete its investigation and come up with a report within the next 15 days.

“Kasi ang nangyari doon, because of the heavy rains parang naging shallow ang riverbeds doon. Nagkaroon ngayon ng overflowing. Nag-flooding doon. Saka ang mga buhangin masyadong malakas kasi maraming naka-stock doon sa periphery ng bulkan [What happened there was the riverbeds became shallow due to the heavy rains. The river overflowed; thus, the flooding. And a large stock of sand at the periphery of the volcano came raging down],” Leones explained.

“So noong umulan talagang nagbagsakan ang mga buhangin, mga quarrying materials [So when it rained, the sand and other quarrying materials cascaded rapidly],” he added.

Leones stressed that any operator who will be proven to be guilty of negligence or violations may face administrative charges.

Affected residents may also claim for damages that cause them, the official added.

“Kung may napinsalang indibidwal on the basis of our findings pwede nilang magamit iyon para mag claim sila ng danyos or magkaroon ng criminal case sila against doon sa sinomang nakagawa ng pinsala sa kanila [If any individual was hurt or affected, on the basis of our findings, they could file for claims for the damages or they may file a criminal case against those that cause them damage],” Usec. Leones said.

According to Albay Governor Al Bichara, they will cooperate with the order of the President, but appealed that the investigation should be finished first before suspending the operations as the materials from the quarrying operations will be needed for the rehabilitation of damaged houses and establishments in the province.

“If they will stop quarrying, we will run out of aggregates for reconstruction, rehabilitation of our province, not only that of the region because most of the aggregates come from Albay,” the governor said in a statement.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) earlier noted that lahar or mudflow usually searches an alternative path on the slope of the volcano if the old one turns shallow.

This could also happen to other volcanoes like in Mt. Pinatubo, the agency warns. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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