DENR: Manila Bay waters off Bataan now fit for swimming

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2019   •   1589

FILE PHOTO: Manila Bay sunset (Rogelio Neccessito Jr. / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified an area in Manila Bay that is now fit for swimming and other forms of contact recreation activity.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said swimming in the Manila Bay waters off the Mariveles town in Bataan is already possible after its level of coliform bacteria was reduced to the safe levels of 100 to 200 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters, based on a report they received.

Antiporda added that DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu is set to head to Mariveles, Bataan this week to validate the report.

He said the latest development is a proof that government efforts to rehabilitate Manila bay are beginning to bear fruit.

“Matatandaan niyo na nasabi natin dito sa DENR na within 6 months to 1 year eh meron tayong magiging swimmable area ano. Ito na po ‘yun,” he said

(If you can recall, the DENR said that within 6 months to 1 year we will have a ‘swimmable’ area in Manila bay. This is it.)

DENR, however, clarified that swimming in Manila Bay waters along the coast of Roxas Boulevard remains prohibited as the water quality there has yet to improve. Dredging and other clearing operations are also ongoing in the area.

“Ngayon po ay nabubulabog ang dagat. Hinuhukay po siya at kumbaga iyong mga bakal at anuman, salamin man o bote o bubog ngayon po ay nabulabog kaya malaki po iyong posibilidad na maaari kayong mainjure o malagay sa alanganin ang buhay niyo,” Antiporda cautioned.

(The waters and the seabed are being dredged so solid wastes underneath such as metal, shards of glass and other similar materials may have surfaced. This might possibly injure or endanger your lives)

Since January this year, the government has been working to clean up Manila’s most famous body of water to make it fit again for swimming and other water-related recreation activities.

DENR and other agencies have began the dredging operation in parts of Manila bay and its tributaries to remove the layers of trash and silt underwater, as seen in a video taken by UNTV News and Rescue’s underwater drone.

The decades-long flow of solid wastes and untreated discharges have raised the coliform bacteria in Manila Bay to more than 300 million MPN per 100 milliliters before the rehabilitation kicked off, the DENR said.

The presence of coliform bacteria in the water indicates contamination which may cause diseases upon contact. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Senators mourn the passing of ex-DENR Sec. Gina Lopez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday mourned the passing of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

In a statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he is deeply saddened by the passing of Lopez, whom he called a “fearless advocate and a tireless philanthropist,” who dedicated “most her life for the betterment of her fellow Filipinos.”

Go added that Lopez’s “exceptional” dedication to protecting the environment has “no equal today.”

“I had the honor of working with her when she was the environment secretary of the Duterte Administration. As a former colleague in the government, I know how passionate, dedicated and humble she was as a public servant and as an Earth warrior,” he said in a statement.

“Ma’am Gina, taos-pusong pasasalamat po sa inyong hindi napapantayang serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino. Isa kang katangi-tanging modelo ng tunay na pagmamalasakit sa kapwa tao. May your legacy continue for generations to come,” he added.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel also expressed condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of the late DENR chief. He described Lopez as “a famous philanthropist and staunch children’s rights advocate.”

“I am saddened by the demise of such a great public servant and environmentalist as Gina Lopez. She will truly be remembered for her advocacies and contributions in the service of Filipinos,” Pimentel said.

“As the Filipinos mourn the untimely death of former Secretary Lopez, we also pray that her legacy lives on in every person and community her good heart has touched,” Pimentel added.

READ: Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez dies at 65

Lopez passed away on Monday. She succumbed to multiple organ failure after battling brain cancer.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri recalled Lopez’s many efforts to preserve the environment and helping the aggrieved sectors of society especially poor children.

“Being the chief of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is just one of the many tasks she carried out well as part of our government. She brought her environmental activism into every Filipino home in her travels around our beautiful archipelago,” he said in a statement.

Zubiri also expressed admiration for Lopez’s causes and for her grace and sublime courage with which she faced the pains of her sickness.

“She walked her talk, be it in defense of helpless children or displaced communities, or in nursing back to life polluted waters or ravaged forests,” he said.

“While in government, her habit of speaking the inconvenient truth to power was actually a strength, and not a character flaw in a bureaucracy straitjacketed by niceties. Though her stint was cut short, Gina was a great ‘secretary of defense of our natural resources’,” he added.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also said many will remember the late environmentalist as “a woman of courage” and a “firebrand,” who pushed for her environmental and child protection advocacies without fear and hesitation.

“She was all that. In or out of government, her life was about tireless creativity for all our collective future, through our children and our environment,” he added.

Senator Sonny Angara likewise paid tribute to Lopez, describing her as a “one-person green warrior” who took her “selfless” fight for environment protection to “where it matters.”

“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the margins of society. She fought for children who were incapable of seeking justice and care for themselves and eloquently spoke for the people in the communities whose voices have been crushed by exploitation,” Angara said.

“She was a one-person green warrior who took the fight to where it matters – in boardrooms, chatrooms, government offices, and in her favorite office – out in the open, under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on,” he added.

Angara also stated that Lopez’s passing has “left us a bucket list to comply with and follow.”

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, thanked Lopez for her efforts to protect the environment.

“Sec. Gina Lopez came in our midst and taught us love for mankind and the environment, our common home. Thank you for touching our lives in your impassioned way,” Poe said in a statement.

Former DENR Sec Gina Lopez dies at 65

Maris Federez   •   August 19, 2019

Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez

Former environment and natural resources secretary Gina Lopez died on Monday after battling brain cancer. She was 65.

Lopez was known for being a staunch children’s right champion, as well as, her advocacy in caring for the environment.

Lopez was known for her work in rehabilitating the Pasig River and La Mesa Watershed.

She was also instrumental for the shutting down of mining operations found to have violated environmental laws.

As a children’s rights advocate, Lopez founded the Bantay Bata 163, where cases of child abuse can be reported.

Funeral services for the former secretary is still to be announced.

DENR to issue import ban on recyclable waste

Marje Pelayo   •   August 12, 2019

Disposal of the 26 containers from Chronic Plastic Inc., Ontario, Canada at a sanitary landfill of Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. in Capas, Tarlac. (Courtesy: MCWMC)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will issue a moratorium or temporary ban on importation of recyclable waste into the country.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the moratorium will run for three months while the Department is reviewing the import procedures and regulations on such shipments.

Antiporda said the DENR is making sure that there won’t be a repeat of the incident involving the illegal entry of imported garbage from Canada and South Korea.

The official, meanwhile, is proposing for P3-M cash bond from companies that would import recyclable wastes before they are issued a permit.

The cash bond will be used should any problem occur with the imported shipment.

“Lugi ang bansa diyan dahil ang tagal naka stock diyan sa atin kung saan merong mga dapat bayaran na hindi na nabayaran, (It’s our loss if [the shipment] ends up idle while there are dues to pay),” Antiporda argued.

Meanwhile, Antiporda said the DENR might allow the importation of second hand or used electronic appliance provided that all parts will be reused.

Kapag iyan ay contaminated, iyan ay waste na. Hindi na siya recyclable, (If its contaminated then it’s already waste and is no longer recyclable),” Antiporda noted.

While the moratorium is in effect, the DENR will inspect the recycling plants of all importing firms. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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