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Ultimately, it’s the people’s responsibility


“IT’S about time we learned to discipline ourselves by disposing of our garbage properly and not indiscriminately,” Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco said following the recent heavy rains and winds that dumped garbage from Manila Bay onto Roxas Boulevard.

“The collective will and initiative to push for a comprehensive rehabilitation of Manila Bay is not impossible. Government agencies and all concerned sectors, to include every citizen, should not lose sight of meeting this great challenge head-on,” he added.

The MWSS is one of 13 government agencies ordered by the Supreme Court in 2008 to clean up Manila Bay. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was directed to lead the effort. As the pollution in Manila Bay is largely the result of sewage from households flowing through rivers and streams into the bay, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was directed to work with all local governments around the bay.

The garbage that filled Roxas Boulevard was mostly plastics, but the more serious problem in the bay is the pollution from untreated sewage. Thus the MWSS has directed MWSS concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water to fast-track their programs to set up facilities to treat all wastewater from their areas.

It has now been 10 years since the Supreme Court directed the 13 government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay.” The DENR is said to be undertaking a vulnerability study in the bay. The MWSS has directed its concessionaires to advance their respective plans and commitments. We would welcome a comprehensive report from all the agencies directed by the Supreme Court in 2008 on what each has accomplished on the matter of pollution in Manila Bay after all these years.

Still, in all these efforts being undertaken by all these government agencies, the biggest role remains that of common ordinary people. There is now a worldwide movement to reduce people’s reliance on non-biodegradable plastics which are being dumped into the world’s oceans, posing a danger to sea life and ultimately to human life through seafood.

“It’s about time we learned to discipline ourselves by disposing of our garbage properly and not indiscriminately, and hopefully, there will be less use of plastics, styrofoams, and non-biodegradable materials that clog our sewerage, canals, and rivers,” MWSS Administrator Velasco said. Until we learn to do this, we will have Manila Bay to remind us with garbage along Roxas Boulevard.