DENR to close off Manila Bay as swimming remains unsafe

admin   •   February 4, 2019   •   3834

Portion of the Manila Bay days after the massive clean up on January 27, 2019. (Christopher Tolentino)

MANILA, Philippines — Just a week following the massive clean-up drive in Manila Bay, local and foreign tourists started to crowd the formerly trash-filled, neglected seaside promenade known as the ‘baywalk’ along Roxas Boulevard.

Families can now spread their picnic mats on the sand and wait to capture the iconic sunset by the bay.

Some couldn’t resist the enticing water and would carelessly plunge into the bay despite warnings of health risks from authorities.

One of them was Mitch Colon who was carrying her baby in her arms while wading through the waters of Manila Bay.

“Laking Maynila din naman po kami kaya sanay rin po kami sa mga ganyan. Pagkatapos niyan magbabanlaw sa bahay kasi baka delikado rin,” said Colon.

Some residents say they now appreciate the change that has come to Manila Bay.

Before the launch of the “Battle for Manila Bay”, they rarely visited the place because of the pile of trash and the stench of the dark and obviously dirty water.

“Maganda na siya. Malinis na siya. First time ko lang po, kasi madumi siya dati,” said Victoria Fuentes.

“Noong dalaga ako, naliligo rin ako dito. Kaso (naging) marumi. Ngayon okay na,” noted Edith Cruz.

Volunteers like Nelson Delgado said it has become a routine for him to pick pieces of trash at the bayside saying it is his way of helping the environment and to protect the visitors in the place especially children.

“Tulong na lang po sa kalikasan saka kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte. Nagwo-worry kasi ako, ang dami kasing bubog. Ngayon kahit pagod kami, makita namin iyong mga tao, iyong mga bata na masaya, masaya na rin po kami,” Delgado said.

But despite the enjoyment of the visiting public, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) maintained that it is not yet recommended to swim in Manila Bay.

The agency plans to place warning signages and fences around the bay area to bar the public from swimming.

DENR Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor in a text message said: “There is not advice from DENR to swim in Manila Bay. It is not yet fit for swimming”.

The agency explained that for a body of water to be safe for human contact or for recreation, its fecal coliform content must fall within the 100 most probable number (MPN) per milliliters.

In the case of Manila Bay, the water is far from safe level since it hit the 1.3 billion MPN per 100 ml. in fecal coliform content.

The DENR together with the Department of Health (DOH) earlier warned the public that the water of Manila Bay is not yet safe for recreation.

The agencies said getting contracted with diseases like cholera, diarrhea and skin infections are still high due to the water’s level of contamination.— Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

DENR calls on sea vessel owners to explain dumping of waste in Manila Bay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will summon the owners of sea vessels that dock at the Navotas Fish Port in Baseco, Manila through the Anti-Pollution Task Force.

The DENR, along with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), conducted an inspection at the Navotas Fish Port on Friday (June 4) to check for metal content, fecal coliform, and grease present in the water.

According to DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda, several sea vessels docked at the Fish Port are dumping waste in Manila Bay.

Antiporda said the department will summon the concerned individuals to explain the issue.

“We will talk to them immediately after this kasi ipasu-summon natin sila sa Anti-Pollution Task Force para magkaroon ng dialogue between sea vessels and the government,” he said.

According to the captain of one of the cargo vessels, Angelito Balitaan, there are instances that they would throw waste in Manila Bay because their vessel does not have a sewage system and they do not have enough funds for sewage repairs.

“Starting na natuto ako nang ganiyan iyan na kinagisnan ko, minana na din iyan wala pang implementation ng mga sewage sewage,” he said.

Meanwhile, the test results of the water samples will be released in a week.  AAC (with reports from JP Nuñez)

DENR discovers four culverts draining untreated water directly into Manila Bay

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021

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)

Dolomite not washed out; black sand ‘washed in’ — DENR

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu conducted a surprise inspection of the Manila Bay Beach Nourishment site on Wednesday (October 14).

Accompanied by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Cimatu visited the site following reports that the artificial white sand in the area has been washed away after days of continuous rain.

Peralta himself requested for the visit as part of their mandate of ensuring that the said government project is properly progressing.

The DENR Chief stressed there was no washing off of the dolomite white sand in Manila Bay, contrary to reports circulating on social media.

The agency explained that the natural blank sand deposit in the area covered the white sand by one to three feet thick resulting in the sand turning black.

“Nakita po na puro kasinungalingan iyong lumabas na na-wash out po ang white sand natin (Reports that the white sand has been washed out are all lies),” DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said.

“Ang nangyari talaga is wash in. Ang nangyari po is pumasok iyong itim na buhangin at pumatong sa white dolomite (What really happened was a “wash in”. The black sand washed ashore and covered the white dolomite),” he added.

In September, President Rodrigo Duterte himself lauded the efforts of Cimatu in the full rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

He expressed high confidence in Cimatu despite criticisms on the use of crushed dolomite boulders to cover the coastline of Manila Bay. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

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