Senator: Plan Manila Bay rehab well before execution

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Senator Nancy Binay says the Manila Bay rehabilitation should be well-planned.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — Senate tourism committee chair Nancy Binay said Thursday that the government should plan well the rehabilitation of Manila Bay before its implementation, as threats of closing down establishments for the clean up can spook investors.

"We're encouraging investors doon sa tourism sector, eh 'pag may ganitong announcements na isasara, tapos wala namang concrete plan, parang it is not a good sign for them," Binay told CNN Philippines in a chance interview.

[Translation: We're encouraging investors in the tourism sector, but if there are announcements like these and there are no concrete plans, it's like it is not a good sign for them.]

In a separate interview on The Source, Binay said the government should learn from the mistakes made during the rehabilitation of popular tourist destination Boracay island, which she said authorities could have been better prepared for.

"Sana pagdating dito sa Manila Bay, pagplanuhan muna natin the whole thing. Because remember, hindi lang naman 'yan 'yung mga hotels eh. May problema rin tayo ng mga informal settlers. So ayusin muna natin 'yung plan before talking about it," she said.

[Translation: I hope that when it comes to the Manila Bay, let's plan the whole thing first. Because remember, it's not just the hotels. We also have problems with informal settlers. So let's get the plan together first before talking about it.]

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it would unveil the new plan for the P47 billion Manila Bay rehabilitation and name establishments which have been initially found to be non-compliant with environmental laws on January 27.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expects to remove over 200,000 families out of the areas around it, while the DENR says it may close down at least 50 establishments suspected of polluting the bay.

Aside from closure, the DENR also warned that establishments found polluting Manila Bay will be fined ₱20,000 to ₱200,000 a dayPresident Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shut down hotels near the bay if they fail to install proper water treatment systems.

Talks of the rehabilitation of Manila Bay dragged the Philippine Stock Exchange down yesterday by 148.72 points to 7,864.7, with the property sector taking the greatest losses, shedding 180.11 points to a 3,831.58 close.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the rehabilitation of Manila Bay would come in three stages: Phase 1 – cleanup and improvement of water quality improvement, Phase 2 – rehabilitation and Phase 3 – protection and sustainment.

Cimatu said Phase 1 will include the cleanup of esteros and waterways, reduction of the level of coliform and toxic waste from establishments, and the installation of sanitation facilities for informal settlers residing along the esteros and the Manila Bay shoreline.

The Environment department said the level of coliform, a group of bacteria which may cause illness in humans, in some parts of Manila Bay clocks in at 1.3 billion most probable number (mpn) of coliform for every 100 milliliters (mpn/100 ml) when the safe level is below 200 mpn/100 ml.

The Manila Bay cleanup will cover three regions, eight provinces, and 178 local government units.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the government would also be planning the relocation of informal settlers around Manila Bay during the first phase of the rehabilitation.

Año expects that parts of Manila Bay can be safe to swim in by December.

Manila Bay will be the fourth place to be rehabilitated by the government under the Duterte administration.

Its cleanup follows Boracay — which was closed for six months and affected thousands of workers and hundreds of establishments — Panglao Island in Bohol and El Nido, Palawan.