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

Marje Pelayo   •   March 20, 2019   •   1607

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)

3,810 tons of garbage collected from Manila Bay cleanup ops – MMDA

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A joint clean-up activity on an area of Manila Bay in Navotas City led by the MMDA, DENR, DPWH, Coast Guard, BJMP, Navotas City LGU, Brgy. officials as part of the bay’s rehabilitation, August 19, 2019 | MMDA

MANILA, Philippines – More than 3,000 tons of garbage have been collected from the coastline and drainage system discharging to Manila Bay since the government began its rehabilitation in January, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported.

MMDA’s Manila Bay rehabilitation report revealed that from January 7 to August 31, they were able to collect garbage, water hyacinth and silt weighing a total of 3,810 tons from the following areas:

• 2,639 cubic meters / 749.72 tons of garbage from Manila Baywalk and other tributaries

• 2,594.34 cubic meters / 737.12 tons of garbage and water hyacinth removed from Baseco beach area, lagoon, and aplaya

• 3,174.5 cubic meters / 901.85 tons of water hyacinth/garbage from Pasig River and San Juan River area

• 5,005.5 cubic meters / 1,422.17 tons of silt from esteros and drainage laterals discharging to Manila Bay

MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim said they expect to collect more garbage from Manila Bay due to heavy rains in the past few days.

“Garbage has accumulated in Manila Bay after the heavy rains but the rehabilitation of Manila Bay never stops. We are inviting more volunteers to help in our clean-up drive held every Saturday in the Baywalk and Baseco areas,” Lim said.

“The government still has a long way to go in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay but we are on the right track towards restoring the beauty and improve Manila Bay’s quality of water,” said Lim.

The Manila Bay cleanup organized by the MMDA was joined by some 18,457 volunteers from January to August this year.

95 endangered hawksbill turtle hatchlings released in Albay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 6, 2019

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol has reported 95 hatchlings of hawksbill sea turtle were released in the waters of Sitio Imacoto Cagmanaba, Oas, Albay on Wednesday (Sept 4).

The hawksbill turtle or Eretmochelys imbricata is among the critically endangered sea turtles in the world.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the hawksbill turtles are among the marine creatures that help maintain the health of coral reefs.

“As they remove prey such as sponges from the reef’s surface, they provide better access for reef fish to feed.  They also have cultural significance and tourism value,” the WWF said.

Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Guinobatan Officer Narisol C. Divina appealed to the public to be their partner in protecting marine turtles to save marine life.

“The DENR needs the concern and support of the community and stakeholders on the protection of our marine biodiversity to scale up the Pawikan conservation program of the Department,” she said.

READ: DENR releases endangered sea turtles in Boracay to celebrate Ocean’s Month

According to the DENR Bicol, the coastal waters of Sitio Imacoto, Oas is part of the Ticao Burias Pass Protected Seascape (TBPPS), a marine protected area with very rich marine biodiversity, which offers a suitable nesting habitat for sea turtles.—AAC

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.

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