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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has presented its second installment of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Distinguished Lecture Series with retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and now Marinduque Governor Presbitero Velasco as guest lecturer.

This unique lecture series on environment initiated by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs of the DENR aims to stimulate critical and innovative thinking within the department to support the rehabilitation efforts in Manila Bay and Boracay.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno gave an inaugural lecture on environmental justice during the launch of the lecture series last April

Environment Secretary Cimatu rallied DENR officials and employees who attended the lecture forum to strive hard to exceed public expectations insofar as the Manila Bay rehabilitation is concerned.

“Nothing short of victory is expected of us with this Battle for Manila Bay. This is because we have exceeded expectations when we successfully restored Boracay to an island paradise,” Cimatu said in his speech delivered by DENR Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Rodolfo Garcia.

Although Boracay’s problems were far more difficult than those of Manila Bay, Cimatu said the DENR people “must exceed themselves as before through teamwork among various bureaus and members of the department.”

In Velasco’s lecture held at H2O Hotel in Manila on November 12, he reminded the government that the 11-year-old Supreme Court mandamus ordering the DENR and 12 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay and maintain its waters to Class SB level, “involves a lifetime directive and is a perpetual edict.”

“If you are able to restore it to SB classification, after you have restored it, then you’re supposed to preserve that water quality—maintain the water quality of Manila Bay to SB classification or better,” Velasco said.

He added: “That’s why it is continuing. It will go on and on beyond our lifetime.”

Class SB, under DENR Administrative Order 34 of 1990, refers to areas regularly used for public bathing, swimming and skin diving.

In order for the Manila Bay rehabilitation to become successful, Velasco said the government needs to decongest the overpopulated Metro Manila, relocate informal settlers and address the garbage problem, which includes strong implementation of local ordinances against indiscriminate dumping.

Cimatu also underscored the need for “proper understanding and relentless implementation of environmental laws, rules and regulations.”

“In pursuit of changes, information sharing and critical thinking have become major tools in providing support to ongoing environmental battles, such as the rehabilitation of Boracay and now, the rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” the DENR chief pointed out. ###