Believing that love for the environment begins at home, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has urged parents to foster behavior and culture change by teaching their children to respect and care for Mother Earth.

“It is high time that parents teach their children about our love for the environment,” Cimatu said in his speech during the first anniversary of the launch of “Battle for Manila Bay” held at Baseco Beach in Tondo, Manila last weekend.

One year after the efforts to rehabilitate the pollution-challenged water body started, Cimatu said that changing people’s attitude towards the environment remains the most difficult part in restoring Manila Bay to its former glory.

“We need to change the culture of the Filipinos. We need to change our behavior, and this change should start at home,” Cimatu pointed out.

During the event, Cimatu took the opportunity to announce some of the accomplishments of the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force and the stakeholders during the first year of rehabilitation.

He noted that more than a hundred cease and desist orders have been issued following inspection and monitoring of commercial establishments within the Manila Bay region, almost 90,000 volunteers have been mobilized to collect waste along the bay, and almost 25 percent of the water-served population of Metro Manila have been connected to the sewer system.

Cimatu said that an additional 171 water monitoring stations in vulnerable areas have been identified and a sewerage treatment plant has been installed along Roxas Boulevard for the outfalls draining into Manila Bay.

He also cited the overwhelming support of various sectors with major corporations and other reputable organizations joining in cleanup drives and other activities towards rehabilitating the historic bay.

“This is a clear indication that people believe that the rehabilitation of Manila Bay is necessary and important, and they trust the government, our President and his administration leading this battle,” Cimatu said.

Because of these concerted efforts, Cimatu said the fecal coliform levels in Manila Bay have substantially gone down compared to last year when water quality taken in various outfalls registered billions of coliform count.

Despite this, however, Cimatu said there are still a lot of things that need to be done to indicate that the government’s job in Manila Bay rehabilitation is victorious.

“We still have a long way to go to declare that we won the battle. But with your relentless support, we will ultimately win our battle for Manila Bay in the coming years,” Cimatu stressed. ###