The Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force (MBAPTF) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has commenced work to develop a comprehensive approach that will hasten the rehabilitation and restoration of the coastal and marine ecosystem of Manila Bay

"We have to get down to business and jumpstart the task force as we mark the second year of the Battle for Manila Bay," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The task force, headed by DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, held its first meeting on February 3.

Antiporda stressed the importance of the task force's work to complement the actions taken by Cimatu as chair of the Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF).

"The issue of pollution is the core of the Battle for Manila Bay. We are here to provide support to the Secretary and the MBTF," he said.

"The main objective is to stop further pollution in the whole of the Manila Bay region. By hook or by crook, we will stop them (polluters). We can defy these environmental issues." Antiporda told task force members.

The MBAPTF is composed of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO), River Basin Control Office (RBCO), Pasig River Coordinating and Management Office (PRCMO), National Water Resources Board, Laguna Lake Development Authority, and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) regional offices in Central Luzon, CALABARZON, and National Capital Region.

Antiporda directed the PRCMO to examine the riverbanks of the Pasig River for illegal drainage pipes and to trace their source from the Laguna de Bay outlet in Napindan Channel all the way to Manila Bay.

The only outlet of Laguna de Bay is the Napindan Channel, which is connected to Manila Bay via the Pasig River.

"Not all of the pipes that you find in the riverbanks or creeks are illegal. Some of those are storm drains," Antiporda added.

He also instructed the EMB to provide technical assistance through water quality assessment to verify if the water discharge is from floodwater or effluent from residential, commercial, and industrial establishments.

Meanwhile, the MBCO, with the assistance of the EMB, was asked to check and monitor the water quality in port areas in coordination with the Philippine Ports Authority and Philippine Fisheries Development Authority.

The RBCO was tasked to identify rivers where trash traps could be installed to prevent solid wastes from polluting waterways further downstream.

"I am optimistic that with the help of this task force, we can at least minimize pollution coming from the rivers and creeks," Antiporda said.

Cimatu created the MBAPTF on Jan. 6, 2021 pursuant to the mandate of Administrative Order No. 16 issued by the Office of the President for the rehabilitation and restoration of Manila Bay.

The creation of the task force aims to ensure the compliance of all government facilities and other establishments within the Manila Bay region to connect on existing sewerage systems or construct their individual sewerage plant to stop the pollution in Manila Bay.

It is also tasked to develop remedial measures using engineering and technological interventions to address the bay's current water quality, and strictly monitor the enforcement of Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004. ###