After the successful closure of all 335 open dumpsites across the country, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda urged Filipinos to take part in the clean-up of the country’s oceans to protect their marine resources.

Antiporda has taken the lead in organizing clean-up drives to encourage care for the oceans and to come up with preventive measures on the growing problem of marine pollution.

“If every person throws a piece of candy wrapper in the ocean, after just a few months, we would lose our oceans. This is the simplest form of explanation to this growing problem,” he said.

Marine pollution is one of the main reasons the DENR closed all illegally operating open dumpsites across the country as it is in line with the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Antiporda, who is also the head of the Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force, pointed out that one of the objectives of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program, a priority program of the DENR, is to save the oceans.

“In cleaning Manila Bay, we have three objectives – to see is to believe, dapat wala na tayong makikitang debris. Second, to smell is to believe – dapat pag dumaan tayo diyan, ang simoy ng hangin ay amoy dagat na at hindi amoy kubeta, and third, to test is to believe – pag test natin ng water quality, dapat standard na siya,” he said.

Related to this, the DENR partnered with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) to inspect marine vessels at the Navotas Fish Port and Del Pan Bridge on June 4.

During the inspection, the team noted that many of the vessels docked alongside the Manila Bay area were rusted. Floating debris were also seen in the area. To check possible chemical contamination and to assess the water quality, the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) took water samples from the site.

“Despite our campaign to clean our oceans, if the sea vessel operators will not help in this endeavor, we will not be able to clean it up,” added Antiporda.

He also met with the captains of the wooden cargo vessels known as batil to discuss the wastewater discharge from the vessels, and their solid waste management system. He likewise sought the support of the shipyard owners in addressing the pollution in Manila Bay.

Aside from the inspection in the Manila Bay area, Antiporda also spearheaded online learning events from May 26 to 29 in celebration of the Month of the Ocean (MOO).

More than 560 participants from the Boy Scout of the Philippines, as well as elementary and high school teachers, and personnel from D’Triumph, the janitorial manpower agency of DENR attended the events.

“We are racing against time, and unless something is done and fast, then we could one day wake up and learn that we already lost our oceans and marine resource due to our neglect and irresponsibility. We need to take action now to save the environment,” Antiporda concluded. ###