The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calls for stricter rules in the monitoring and reporting of sewage discharge of marine vessels to ensure the effective implementation of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force Head Benny D. Antiporda suggested this to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to prevent pollution from sewage during a recent meeting along with the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), shipyard associations, and marine vessel owners.

"In six years, a lot has changed already. Marine vessels have already increased in number and our population has grown. Maybe it would be better if we talk about the solution, which is coming up with a suited policy on how to control or stop the pollution in Manila Bay," Antiporda told the PCG.

He suggested the need to have a more thorough data monitoring and reporting of sewage from the source, treatment, collection, coordination with agencies, and disposal to sufficiently support the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

"We cannot track the vessels if they discharge it within Manila Bay or outside the bay. Maybe we could come up with something that could safeguard the bay from discharges," Antiporda explained.

PCG National Capital Region-Central Luzon Commodore Leovigildo Panopio said “the PCG takes the task of marine environmental protection seriously.”

He added the agency is currently formulating programs and policies concerning the enforcement of various laws and regulations aimed at the protection of the marine ecology.

He added that there is an ongoing review of their Memorandum Circulars (MCs).

PCG Lieutenant Precious Omalsa said that there should be no discharges of sewage from the vessels in the Manila Bay region since it will not satisfy the ruling under the PCG MC 10-14.

In the ruling, ships discharging comminuted and disinfected/treated sewage should be at a "distance of more than four nautical miles from the nearest shoreline."

Meanwhile, ships discharging sewage that is not comminuted or disinfected/treated should be at a "distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest shoreline."

Omalsa cited vessels that are four nautical miles from Metro Manila but are two or three nautical miles from Bataan, which means discharges are still within the Manila Bay region.

"Cleaning up the bay is not literally getting a pail of water and filtering it. It is more of stopping or minimizing the pollution, for the environment, for nature to heal itself. But sad to say, due to too much pollution, it cannot heal itself anymore," Antiporda added.

The meeting was held to ensure the compliance of marine vessel owners and organizations to the memorandum and to come up with measures on how the maritime sector can help the government in its ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay. ###