The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will lead a high-level inter-agency meeting on December 16 to discuss the implementation of an honest-to-goodness clearing operation along Pasig River.

The meeting was called by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu in his capacity as chairman of the Manila Bay Task Force. It will be held at the corporate building of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Manila.

Invited to the meeting were the heads of 12 other government agencies tasked in the 2008 writ of continuing mandamus issued by the Supreme Court to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay.

The agencies are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Budget and Management, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, and PPA.

Mayors Isko Moreno of Manila, Vico Sotto of Pasig City and Abby Binay of Makati City will laso be invited to the meeting.

Cimatu earlier came out with a directive to clear the 24-km Pasig River of “all obstructions and blockage” for the recently relaunched ferry service and in line with the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Studies showed that about one-fifth of the organic pollution load to Manila Bay came from the Pasig River basin.

Cimatu said the meeting would serve as an opportunity for the DENR to touch base with other agencies covered by the continuing mandamus.

On December 9, Cimatu issued a memo circular directing all DENR offices and officials involved in the Manila Bay rehabilitation to link arms with other “mandamus agencies” for close coordination and oversight of all ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Pasig River pursuant to the 11-year-old high court directive.

The environment chief specifically ordered DENR Undersecretaries Juan Miguel Cuna and Ernesto Adobo Jr., the Manila Bay Ground Commander and Manila Bay Task Force Secretariat Head, respectively, to ”coordinate and collaborate” with mandamus agencies and concerned local government units and private sectors on the matter. #