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

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019

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)

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‘Battle for Rivers and Esteros’: Massive clean-up of Manila Bay

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2019

DPWH personnel collect plastic waste from polluted esteros | Courtesy: DENR

MANILA, Philippines — Around 5,301 sacks of garbage were collected on Sunday (March 31) in the ‘Battle for Rivers and Esteros’ — a massive clean-up drive of Manila Bay.

Waterways leading to Manila Bay were filled with piles of waste.

Some volunteers used small boats to collect trash while others needed to use cranes and backhoes.

Various groups, government agencies, and residents participated in the cleaning of the waterways that lead to Manila Bay.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said cleaning the waterways is a step toward cleaning the rivers leading to the bay.

“Ang Parañaque River natin ay isa sa medyo maduming river na dumidiretso sa Manila Bay. Kailangang linisin natin ang Parañaque River, pero ang Parañaque River hindi natin malilinis kung hindi natin isama ang mga estero na pumupunta sa Parañaque River, (The Parañaque River is among the polluted rivers that lead to Manila Bay. We need to clean that. But we cannot do so if we will not clean first the waterways leading to Parañaque River) he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior of Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año recommends relocating all informal settlers living along the waterways.

He said cleaning Manila Bay is for the sake of the future generation and that it is time to take action.

“Alam ko sa ginagawa nating ito marami tayong nasasagasaan, Mayroong sasama ang loob , pero wala tayo magagwa dahil wala nang panahon, (I know that our activities might upset some groups. They might protest but there’s nothing we can do about it. There is no time),” he said.

Residents who volunteered in the clean-up believe this will help improve their barangay.

Among the rivers that were cleaned include Tullahan, Tinejeos, Pasig, Navotas, Parañaque and San Juan.

Amy Gallarte, a resident of Barangay. Tumana, Marikina City said that cleaning the waterways can help prevent flooding in their area.

“Kailangan po kasi natin ang kalinisan lalong-lalo na po ang creek. Kasi pag nagbara ang creek hindi po dadaloy ang tubig, makukulong po iyan, (We need cleanliness especially in the waterways. Because once it gets blocked, water will get stuck there) she said.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Simultaneous clean-up of rivers, canals leading to Manila Bay set on March 31

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has set a simultaneous clean up of canals and rivers leading to Manila Bay on March 31.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the clean up drive will cover the river system traversing Marikina, Pasi, Tullahan and Parañaque.

“Iyong nakadikit dun sa mga river system, iyong mga esteros will be cleaned(The canals attached to the river system will be cleaned),” said Leones.

These water systems, according to Leones, serve as conduits for waste water and other pollutants to directly flow into Manila Bay, thus a clean up drive is highly necessary.

“We believe that we cannot clean Manila Bay unless we clean also the sources of pollution along this river systems,” the official added.

In line with the clean-up efforts, the DENR has ordered the closure of two of the three outfalls or water passage located between the U.S. Embassy and Manila Yacht Club to give way to the construction of a sewerage treatment plant that will filter waste water before it reaches Manila Bay.

Meanwhile, dredging operations to scoop out the 4-meter-thick mud and garbage deposits in Manila Bay’s seabed continue.

Likewise, experts are conducting tests on water samples to verify traces of dangerous and heavy metals like mercury.

“Kapag na-accumulate sa body mo iyan, (If those (heavy metals) accumulate inside your body) it will take years before it is eliminated into your body,” Leones explained.

Authorities remind the public that recreational swimming remains strictly prohibited in Manila Bay, though pollution level in its water has receded.

“Ito lang ang sabi ng aming secretary, kapag na-fit ang water for swimming ang unang lalangoy doon kami daw. Hanggat hindi pa kami lumalangoy doon talagang walang dapat mag-swimming doon, (Secretary [Cimatu] told us that once the water in Manila Bay becomes fit for swimming, we will be the first ones to swim in it. So while we are not yet swimming in it, no one should),” the official stressed.

The agency will set up sanitation facilities that informal settlers near Manila Bay can use to prevent them from disposing waste materials into the bay. – Marje Pelayo (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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DPWH begins dredging, desilting of Manila Bay

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

A backhoe dredges decades worth of silt in Manila Bay

MANILA, Philippines — Using the newest machinery, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) began on Tuesday (March 5) the wide desilting activity in Manila Bay as part of its rehabilitation.

The DPWH will first work on the 1.5-kilometer area from Manila Yacht Club Breakwater to the US Embassy.

It was divided into five sectors, with each part estimated to take three months to clean.

Desilting is a process of removing waste and mire underneath the seabed of Manila Bay. The waste collected by the amphibious trucks will be dried and segregated.

The collected waste will be taken to Navotas landfill while the mire and soil will be dumped in a land in Bicutan, Taguig to check if it can still be used.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said they are targeting to dredge around 225,000 sq. meters for this year.

“Kailangan ding i-analyze ang composition ng ide-dredge namin depende kung ano iyong toxicity kung meron man (We also need to analyze the composition of what we are going to dredge, depending on the toxicity if there is any),” Villar said.

Villar also said that the DPWH will assign 50 personnel every day to work on the desilting and dredging activity in Manila Bay.

They will also use a sewer inspection camera to determine which establishments are spewing waste into Manila Bay.

“Malaking tulong ito. Pagpasok niya sa culvert ng mga pipes tapos mayroong unathorized na pumapasok doon na mga tubo coming from non-compliant, nakikita ito. Kapag nakita niya iyan, ime-measure namin kung saan galing, anong building o anong tubo (It will be a great help when it enters the culvert of the pipes because it can detect unauthorized pipes coming from non-compliant establishments. We’ll be able to determine which building or pipe it is),” he said.

The department also estimates that it would take three years to thoroughly clean the Manila Bay seabed. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Joan Nano)

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