Manila Bay, a “magnified cesspool,” to undergo Boracay-like rehab in January

“The next war we are going to wage is against Manila Bay.”

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu vowed this yesterday, aiming to rehabilitate the almost 2,000-square kilometer bay “immediately, possibly to start [in the] second week of January.” This announcement came after a decade since the Supreme Court ordered 13 government agencies to clean up Manila Bay’s water quality and restore it to be “safe for recreational activities.”

A child jumps into Manila Bay. Photo courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer

“We will temporarily organize the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to address the problem in Manila Bay [and] reduce the coliform to a level where we can swim again,” Cimatu said. “The [current] coliform level is a magnified cesspool.”

A report from the DENR shows that the Manila Bay has reached a high coliform level of 330 million most probable number (MPN) for each 100 milliliters. Do you know how appalling that is

The declared safe coliform level for the bay is only at 100 MPN/100 ml, making the current result three million times higher and worse.

Members of Task Force Kalinisan and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority hold a clean up drive of Manila Bay. Photo courtesy of Erwin Aguilon/Radyo Inquirer

“The rehab of Manila Bay is a very tall order, not only for the DENR but also the other agencies in the mandamus,” Cimatu stressed. Part of the DENR’s rehabilitation strategy was said to fully comply with environmental laws, which they will coordinate and clarify with the surrounding local government units (LGUs).

The LGUs around the bay include most cities and provinces in the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon.

DENR’s “morale” to rehabilitate the Manila Bay as soon as possible was said to be raised “because of [their] performance in Boracay.” The government closed the whole Boracay island for six months to make way for complete rehabilitation, which they weren’t able to finish in time (Read: How is the rest of Boracay after the closure?).


Header image courtesy of Earvin Perias/

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Read more:

You will soon see cleaner waters at Manila Bay

Old photos from the glory days of Manila Bay before it was a “toilet bowl”

There’s life around Manila Bay, and you can help improve it

Read more by Amierielle Anne Bulan:

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Most Filipinos preferred to travel locally in 2018

Find your next great catch from the market in this fish list

Writer: AMIERIELLE ANNE BULAN © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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