DENR looks at possible closure of at least 50 hotels, establishments polluting Manila Bay

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Children and adults alike beat the summer heat through swimming at this portion of Manila Bay — something that the state disaster bureau is not too happy about owing to the threats to health that swimming in polluted waters poses.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — The Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) has questioned why President Rodrigo Duterte seemed to have singled out hotels as pollutants to Manila Bay during his recent speech.

"You only have a handful of hotels along that stretch of Manila Bay, and of course common knowledge naman na Manila Bay is the catch basin of all tributaries around Metro Manila. I think a lot more of the waste would come from those areas. And if the hotels do contribute to the pollution level, I think it would only be a small percentage compared to other sources of pollution," TCP President Jojo Clemente said.

Duterte on Wednesday threatened to close down hotels near Manila Bay without proper water treatment systems following his order to fully rehabilitate the polluted body of water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied Duterte singled out hotels. However, an official said they have proof that a number of hotels in Metro Manila are among the pollutants of Manila Bay.

"When we conducted our investigation, meron mga lumalabas na issues na nagsasabi na hindi sila naka-tap man lang sa sewer, kailangan at least meron kayong discharge permit. Wala rin silang discharge permit," Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

Aside from hotels, DENR discovered that based on its initial inspection, at least 50 other establishments have been disposing untreated waste water, draining it in the Manila Bay. These include clinics and hospitals, factories, subdivisions, and other residential areas.

DENR said these establishments will be immediately closed if they fail the inspection, once the Manila Bay rehabilitation begins on January 27.

"The Supreme Court is clear, hindi kami binibigyan ng extension na pag hindi nagawa trabaho namin ay hahabaan. Sabi nga ng President, hindi namin sasantuhin sinuman siya. Panawagan sa mga establishment kung may dapat gawin, gawin niyo na po ngayon. 'Wag niyo kami hintayin pumunta sa inyo," Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor said.

The inspection and rehabilitation of the 2,000-square kilometer Manila Bay will be a tedious task. Seventeen rivers in Metro Manila and Regions 3 and 4-A drain water into Manila Bay. Establishments and residents also dump their waste into the bay.

During the inspections, DENR officials will check the establishment's liquid waste discharge to determine if the water reached the acceptable quality. Tracing sources of waste going to Manila Bay and preventing bacteria to multiply is the first part of the rehabilitation.

The government also has to relocate 233,000 informal settlers living near the bay and ensure a complete sewage system and waste water treatment facility would be in place.

DENR has requested the for P47 billion to bring back Manila Bay's glory.