By Jonathan L. Mayuga, January 31 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

AN official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has rejected the call of the Makabayan bloc to postpone the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“We wish to emphasize that Manila Bay is in critical condition. Actually, the bay is in ICU [intensive care unit]. We cannot afford an additional day of delay. Giving in to Makabayan will only make matters much worse,” DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Jonathan Malaya said in a news statement released on Wednesday.

In a related development, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) launched on Wednesday a massive inspection of commercial establishments in the cities of Pasay and Manila as part of the bay rehabilitation program.

A total of 14 teams composed of at least five members each were dispatched by the LLDA to conduct water sampling.

Each team is also armed with proper identification, inspection evaluation report, waste-water sampling form, pre-inspection report and refusal of entry form.

LLDA General Manager Jaime C. Medina said cease and desist orders and notices of violation will be issued by the LLDA to business establishments who fail to meet effluent standards for SB water quality.

Calling it a saturation drive, the massive inspection activities came days after the Duterte administration launched the Battle for Manila Bay, an ambitious P47-billion, a seven-year rehabilitation program to save Manila Bay.

According to Malaya, the rehabilitation of Manila Bay is an order not only by President Duterte, but by the Supreme Court which dates back in December 2008 with the issuance of a writ of continuing mandamus to the agencies led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, including the DILG.

“Instead of asking for a postponement, the Makabayan bloc should [instead] do their part in helping the government fight the ‘Battle of Manila Bay.’ The administration has exercised the political will to do what is right. Now it’s our turn to do our part,” he said.

They added that the Makabayan Bloc’s rationale for postponement “to undertake first a comprehensive and holistic study and a genuine and democratic program that will sincerely rehabilitate the bay” has already been done by both the DENR and the DILG and it only needs to be implemented.

He said Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año is set to meet with Metro Manila mayors to discuss ways on how to expedite the social preparation and transfer of squatter residents to in-city and provincial resettlement sites.

“Secretary Año also seeks to mobilize the cooperation of NCR [National Capital Region] mayors in monitoring business establishments and other polluters. The support of our LGUs is crucial in the success of our rehabilitation plan,” said Malaya.

The DILG is urging all local governments around Manila Bay to set a good example to private establishments—residential and commercial ones—on the compliance with the Clean Water Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

All establishments, particularly those in the Manila Bay area, must ensure that they are connected to sewer lines or have their own sewage treatment plants for proper wastewater disposal, he said.

Malaya also criticized the Makabayan bloc’s claim that the rehabilitation plan will pave the way for the implementation of 40 reclamation projects. “Again this is clearly misinformation. There is no place for reclamation in the rehabilitation program. In fact, Secretary Año is personally opposed to reclamation projects,” he said.

“With everyone’s support, we can cleanup Manila Bay, we can sustain it, and we can preserve the revived Manila Bay for future generations,” he added.