More Manila Bay polluters face closure
Hotels and malls that contribute to pollution in Manila Bay are the government’s next targets in its ongoing cleanup campaign.
“There are hotels and even malls we will order closed due to their water discharge failing [standards] and worsening pollution on Manila Bay,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a speech at the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Palo, Leyte, last week.
Last month, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) issued cease-and-desist orders against three popular restaurants along the bay—Aristocrat and Gloria Maris in Manila and The Esplanade (San Miguel by the Bay) in Pasay City.
The LLDA ordered the shutdown of the restaurants’ water sources and discharge facilities after they were found to be dumping untreated wastewater into Manila Bay.
Earlier, the LLDA also issued notices of violations to an inn, a seaside restaurant, and establishments under the SM Group of Companies in Pasay City.
Local governments also liable
Año said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) would look into the possible administrative and criminal liabilities of local governments found to have issued permits to errant establishments.
In a memorandum circular issued on Jan. 24, he also ordered officials of the 178 cities and municipalities and 5,714 barangays along Manila Bay and its inland tributaries in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon to conduct cleanup drives on the coasts every Saturday.
“We will be measuring the trash hauled away [from the water bodies]… We will do this until the garbage is all gone and until discipline and cleanliness are just a part of life for the communities,” Año told summit delegates.
The 178 local government officials with jurisdiction over the Manila Bay watershed area will attend a meeting on the rehabilitation campaign on Feb. 8.
In an advisory on Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) said that while parts of the bay might be free of trash, this did not mean that the public could already swim in its waters.
According to the DOH, further tests were needed on the water’s chemical and physical quality as well as its coliform levels.
“While the cleanup is ongoing, the public is strongly advised to wait until the waters are deemed safe for recreational swimming,” it said.
The DOH added that for the bay to be deemed safe for bathing, its waters should have a coliform level of fewer than 100 mpn (most probable number) per 100 milliliters.
However, earlier results showed that its level of coliform, or contaminants present in the water such as fecal matter, was at 330 million mpn.
The DOH said that swimming in the bay might lead to gastrointestinal diseases and skin infections. —With a report from Jovic Yee
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