First in PH media: UNTV underwater drone explores Manila Bay’s murky seabed

Marje Pelayo   •   February 7, 2019   •   4073

MANILA, Philippines — On the surface, the sight of Manila Bay may be viewed as clean and fresh as if it has returned to its original, unspoiled state.

But what seems to be a beautiful sight on the surface of the bay is not what it looks like below.

For the first time in the history of Philippine media, UNTV News and Rescue team explored what lies beneath the inviting waters of Manila Bay.

Using UNTV’s underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) drone, the team first took a look at the section of the bay in Padre Faura.

Aside from the low tide, the underwater drone was not able to swim farther, but it was able to capture a long stretch of marshy, muddy ground in the area.

Next stop was in Remedios area.  

The underwater drone was able to reach 10-feet below the water surface but not a single sign of life was seen. Instead, the drone captured an assortment of trash, a lot of them, that had taken the place of corals on the seafloor.

On the surface, the water seemed clear but turned yellowish to greenish to deep black as the drone swam deeper.

As a proof of Manila Bay’s “dark secrets” underneath, the underwater ROV got tangled with some plastic trash when it emerged from the water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admitted that Manila Bay’s seabed has grown ‘mountains’ of garbage that were washed to this portion of the bay in the past 40 to 50 years.

The DENR has decided to dredge Manila Bay 300 meters from the shoreline and up to three meters below to clean out the garbage from the seabed. The operations will be carried out with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Hahabulin po namin ang tamang lalim at ang goal namin (ay) una, ma-expose ang beach materials o ang sand. Pangalawa, sa pamamagitan din ng pagtanggal na iyan, hopefully, it will contribute sa improvement ng water quality,” explained DPWH, Bureau of Equipment director Toribio Noel Ilaw.

The DENR, meanwhile, reported a decline in fecal coliform level in the waters of Manila Bay.

Based on the test conducted on water samples in the Padre Faura area, from 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters before the rehabilitation efforts began, the coliform content reduced to 54 million MPN/100ml and even lower to 7.5 million MPN/100ml.

In Remedios area, fecal coliform level reduced from 160 million to 35 million MPN/100ml while in Manila Yatch Club area, it reduced from 1.3 billion to 52 million MPN/100ml at present.

“(Paano) bumaba? The Manila Zoo was the big culprit and when they closed it, they did not dump their waste. (So) there is now 52 million from a high of 1.3 billion,” noted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Cimatu added that the crackdown on establishments polluting Manila Bay by ordering ‘cease and desist’ and issuance of notice of violations prompted a stop in waste discharges and contributed to the lowering of coliform level in the bay.

Despite these improvements, environment and health officials still do not recommend recreational swimming as health hazards of contaminated water remain high anywhere in Manila Bay. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

Duterte won’t allow massive reclamation of private sectors in Manila Bay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not allow any private sector’s massive reclamation of Manila Bay.

During his speech in the inauguration of the Sangley Airport on Saturday (February 15), Duterte said he will only allow plans of reclamation if it is in connection with a government project.

“I will only allow maybe plans of whatever reclamation if it is in connection with a government project. I will not allow massive reclamation for the private sector,” he said.

He also said that there is a need for further study if he will allow reclamation in Manila Bay.

“The entire Manila City would be environmentally at peril. So pag-aralan ninyong mabuti iyan (study it carefully). For the next administration, whoever gets to be the president of this country, study it very carefully. Because that Manila there, that old city is an old city and it will decay if you add so many things in front of Manila Bay,” Duterte said.

Based on reports, there are 25 reclamation projects proposal for the 10,000 hectares of Manila Bay, from Navotas City to Cavite. The government has only approved four of them which still need to undergo value engineer approval.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Over 1,000 ‘estero rangers’ tapped for Manila Bay clean-up project

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 1,100 ‘estero rangers’ were sworn into duty by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu on Sunday (November 17).

They will be deployed to different barangays across Metro Manila to facilitate the estero clean-up project in relation to the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Cimatu believes that by mobilizing these ‘estero rangers,’ irresponsible waste disposal will be prevented as they are going to police their respective communities.

At present, there are around 65,000 families living along more than 200 esteros in Metro Manila and sadly, Cimatu said, they are in the habit of dumping garbage in esteros where these trash extract contaminants that flow straight to Manila Bay polluting its waters.

“Gusto namin mismo doon sa lugar na pinagtatapunan, mayroon tayong linya doon, (We want to have an eye or a line of communication from the areas where they dispose their garbage),” Cimatu said.

“Kayo ang napili. Kayo ang nai-rekomenda ng inyong local government unit especially your barangay (You were chosen. You were recommended by your local government units especially your barangays),” he added addressing the estero rangers.

Local chief executives were asked to identify and recommend two residents from each barangay to become estero rangers.

They are tasked to supervise the cleaning of esteros in their area for six weeks.

“Gusto namin talagang makatulong dahil nga talagang sobrang dumi na talaga (We really want to help because the esteros are so polluted),” noted estero ranger, Adelaida Hermies from San Juan City.

“Personally, ang nakikita ko ang mga residente talaga kulang talaga sa disiplina, (Personally from what I have observed, the residents really lack discipline),” she added.

The project is part of the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay launched by DENR in cooperation with concerned government agencies, the LGUs and the private sector. – MNP (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DENR targets ‘swimmable’ Manila Bay by end of 2019

Marje Pelayo   •   November 14, 2019

Volunteers collect rubbish along the shore during the launch of the Manila Bay rehabilitation in Manila, Philippines, 27 January 2019. Thousands of volunteers and government workers gathered at Manila Bay to launch an inter-agency program effort to rehabilitate the waters dubbed as ‘Battle for Manila Bay’. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants to improve the quality of water in Manila Bay to make it “swimmable” by the end of the year.

On Wednesday (November 13), DENR tested water sample from a creek near the DENR-NCR office in East Avenue, Quezon City.

An organic solution which is said to reduce pollution level in water has been applied.

“Its 100% organic so pwede siyang inumin ng tao, pwedeng inumin ng hayop, (so it could be consumed by humans and animals),” explained CHC Agritect Archieval Cabral.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu personally witnessed the solution’s effect on the contaminated water.

Cimatu said the agency plans to study whether the solution can be used to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

The DENR targets to make its water swimmable or safe for recreation before the end of the year.

“Ang first ano natin is ma-cleanup ang Manila Bay, ang fecal coliform. Iyon ang pinaka-target natin na mapababa, (First, we need to clean up Manila Bay’s fecal coliform content. That’s what we are targeting to reduce,)” Cabral said.

The DENR plans to construct three outfalls and a treatment plant near the Manila Yacht Club in Roxas Boulevard to help reduce pollution in Manila Bay.

“Especially kung nandyan na yung treatment plant talagang bababa na iyon, (Especially if the treatment plant is already working, [coliform content] will be further reduced),” Cimatu said.

“Kasi yung mga matataas na coliform diyan mati-treat nito (Because if coliform content is high, the facility will treat the water),” he assured.

The DENR will commission at least 2,000 personnel to maintain cleanliness in creeks across Metro Manila that discharge water to Manila Bay.

“Kasi kahit maglinis-linis tayo sa dagat kung tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pagbaba ng garbage coming from the esteros, ay ganun pa rin, (Even if we do clean up drives but garbage disposals coming from the esteros continue, the situation will remain the same),” Secretary Cimatu said.

“So, we have to solve the problem from the sources,” he added. – MNP (with EXCLUSIVE interview by Rey Pelayo)

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