DENR distributes trash boats for Manila Bay cleanup

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday distributed four new trash-collecting boats that will be used for cleanup operations in Manila Bay and its tributaries.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu led the turnover of the boats to the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), Bulacan provincial government, and the municipalities of Sto. Tomas in Pampanga, and Orion in Bataan.

During the turnover rites held at Hotel H2O in Manila, Cimatu said the distribution of trash boats was in line with the DENR's continuing commitment to assist local government units (LGUs) surrounding the Manila Bay to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve one of the country's most important bodies of water.

"This is part of the DENR's efforts as lead agency in cleaning up Manila Bay, as ordered in the writ of continuing mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008," Cimatu said.

Cimatu turned over the boats to the PRRC and concerned LGUs after meeting with representatives of 13 government agencies tasked to clean Manila Bay.

According to the environment chief, the boats will not only help government comply with the mandamus, but also promote solid waste management among LGUs.

"By donating these trash-collecting boats, we are hitting two birds with one stone by helping LGUs clean up their waterways to improve water quality and encouraging them to implement solid waste management in their localities," Cimatu explained.

Each boat, which costs P1.8 million, is 30 feet long with a flat bottom that makes it stable and easier to maneuver along small waterways. Its rotating skimmer can scoop up to three tons of floating trash and dump these onto the deck.

The collected garbage are then segregated manually into sorting bins before being transported to the appropriate disposal facility.

Since 2012, the DENR has already donated a total of 36 trash-collecting boats to various LGUs across the country.

Under the deed of donation drawn up by the DENR for each vessel, the recipient LGU will shoulder the manpower, operational and maintenance funds for the boat.

The LGU is also tasked to regularly collect and dispose of the trash and debris from waterways as required under Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

It is also required to submit to the DENR's Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) a corresponding report indicating the volume and composition of wastes collected from waterways.

In turn, the MBCO will provide training for boat operators assigned by the recipient LGU.

In December 2008, the Supreme Court issued a writ of continuing mandamus directing 13 government agencies to clean up Manila Bay and restore its water quality to make it safe for contact recreational activities, such as swimming and skin-diving.

Manila Bay is an important historical, cultural and economic resource of the country. Situated in the western part of Luzon, the bay is bounded by Cavite and Metro Manila on the east, Bulacan and Pampanga on the north, and Bataan on the west and northwest. #