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Bay cleanup vowed

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has assured that it will prioritize the clean-up and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay with an allocation of P80 million for such initiative.

DENR Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez made the assurance as Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing criticized the snail-paced implementation of the Manila Bay coastal development.

“I am also dissatisfied with the Manila Bay development, but we are very determined to clean up and rehabilitate the Manila Bay. Right now, it is like a septic tank,” she told the House Committee on Appropriations deliberating on the DENR’s proposed P28.67 billion for next year.

“We will come up with our timeline and we will fix this,” she assured.

On Dec. 18, 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision directing 13 government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay… restore and maintain its waters to make them fit for swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”

These agencies are the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Department of Interior and Local Government, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration, and the Philippine Ports Authority.

During the hearing, Suansing said the DENR should not be given additional funding since it has more than P4 billion unspent funds. (CHARISSA M. LUCI)