The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be implementing an Intensified Compliance Monitoring (IMC) measure to reinforce its water quality management, particularly on the tracking of sources of untreated wastewater and sewage discharging into Manila Bay.
DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna made the statement following the discovery of more illegal discharges of wastewater that contributed to the contamination of the waters of Manila Bay.
"I was informed that there are illegal drainage pipes leading to the Manila Bay and we want to find out where these are coming from so we can order the stoppage of the illegal discharges," Sampulna said during an early morning inspection of the Manila Baywalk on March 11.
"We will have a saturation drive. We will inspect all establishments so we can trace where the foul smell of Manila Bay is coming from. There are many secrets here in the Manila Bay waters," he said.
The IMC will be conducted to ensure that establishments are compliant with environmental laws such as Republic Act (RA) 9275 or Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, RA 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and Presidential Decree 1586.
The erring establishments will be penalized once the sources of illegal pipes have been traced and verified.
DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations, Environment, and Supervising Undersecretary for Metropolitan Environmental Offices (MEOs) Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna will oversee the IMC operations. He will be joined by the DENR-MEOs, DENR-National Capital Region (NCR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Central Office, EMB-NCR, and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).
“We will determine if these establishments have sufficient facilities to treat their wastewater and also guide them on how to comply with our environmental laws,” said Cuna.
Sampulna said the monitoring will focus on the improvement of the water quality as the DENR targets to make the Manila Bay swimmable by the end of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s administration.
"This is President Duterte’s legacy. He has instructed us to rehabilitate Manila Bay as we did in Boracay," Sampulna said.
Based on the data of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office, the fecal coliform level near the Manila Baywalk was down to 22,500 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/mL) as of February 28, 2022, from 5.75 million MPN/100 mL in 2019.
Meanwhile, the fecal coliform level near the Manila Bay Dolomite Beach has dropped to 1,700 MPN/100 mL as of March 2022, from an average of 62,700 MPN/100 mL in 2019.
From January to December 2021, the DENR regional offices and LLDA have inspected 6,206 establishments that have been discharging wastewater into Manila Bay.
The DENR has so far issued 1,400 notices of violation, five cease and desist orders, and five ex-parte orders.
The Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) is also currently implementing the construction of a high-density polyethylene pipe in the Remedios and US Embassy outfalls to divert wastewater discharges to the sewerage treatment plant for water treatment before release into the bay.
Ongoing activities of the rehabilitation also include Phase 2 of the beach nourishment project involving the 100-meter laying of dolomite sand along the Manila Yacht Club, construction of the Mandamus Office, public restrooms, souvenir shop, and regular cleanup drives by “estero rangers."
The DENR, in partnership with the Department of National Defense, will also be installing a Fort Drum Island cannon replica that represents the "modern" Battle for Manila Bay.###