Environmental group launches online petition vs Manila Bay white sand project

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2020   •   1083

MANILA, Philippines — Marine conservation group, Oceana Philippines, has launched an online petition to stop the “white sand” project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Manila Bay.

Oceana Philippines, with other non-government organizations, said they are fighting for the protection and conservation of the country’s vastly threatened fisheries, biodiversity, and natural resources.

The petition cited five laws which the project allegedly violated:

  • Environmental Impact System Laws and Regulations
  • The Fisheries Code (RA 8550) as amended by RA 10654
  • The Clean Water Act, RA 9275
  • The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, RA 10066
  • The Local Government Code of 1991, RA 7160

The groups are calling for the accountability of officials behind the project and recommend that the Manila Bay rehabilitation be focused on addressing the ecological degradation, pollution and socio-economic issues in the area.

“The dumping of crushed dolomite boulders in Manila Bay can only be described as an abdication of that grave responsibility to protect and preserve Manila Bay. This is happening at the time when our nation faces serious health, economic and climate crises,” the petition reads.

READ: Cimatu defends Manila Bay white sand project, says dolomite is safe

The so-called “white sand” project has drawn criticisms from environmental groups and netizens who described the initiative as unnecessary government expenditure. AAC

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)

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.

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