DENR Undersecretary: Manila Bay rehab to take 7 years, to cost P47B

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo January 12,2019 - 07:51 AM

Environment Secretary inspects on January 11 the Estero de San Antonio de Abad, the area where the Manila Bay rehabilitation will start. Photo by Inquirer

SIARGAO ISLAND — The rehabilitation of Manila Bay would take seven years to accomplish and would cost around P47 billion, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda. 

“Based on the statement of (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, we’ll try to work on finishing the rehabilitation process within seven years. But you will see a drastic change in one or two months already,” said Antiporda. 

He said it would be impossible to carry out Manila Bay’s rehabilitation program within one or two years because of the extent of contamination that had spread to the body of water. 

In an exclusive interview on Friday, January 11, at the sidelines of the ground launching of Cebu Pacific’s Juan Effect program, Antiporda said the money would be released by phase and would be spent on clean-up activities and relocating informal settlers. 

He said the projected multi-billion peso cost of rehabilitating Manila Bay, initially proposed to be funded by the Philippine government, would significantly decrease with the support from the private sector. 

“What I feel is that there is a big chance that the amount will be lower because the support from the private sector is already coming in. They really want to do something to help the people,” he said.

Antiporda said DENR’s main objective for now would be to prevent establishments and residents from further contaminating Manila Bay. 

Billionaire’s Lane

On the same day, January 11, Secretary Cimatu inspected Estero de San Antonio de Abad, which was found to have the highest level of fecal coliform at 1.3 billion mpn (most probable number). 

Antiporda said the rehabilitation of Manila Bay would start in this area which he had referred to as “Billionaire’s Lane,” because of the fecal coliform level in the area. 

“The acceptable level is 100 mpn. In this part, we have billions so we will start there and then we move to the other areas with the next highest level of fecal coliform,” he said. 

In a separate interview, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said that the task force in-charge of rehabilitating Boracay Island will work together for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

“Task Force Boracay is now called Task Force Philippines because we see the need to rehabilitate various destinations in the country,” she said. 

Puyat said the DOT, the DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would have their first meeting on January 15 to discuss the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

She said Manila Bay’s rehabilitation process would be officially launched on January 27 with DENR serving as the lead agency. /dbs

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