Senator Villar laments Manila Bay deterioration, calls for inquiry

Published June 6, 2018, 3:27 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Cynthia Villar is calling for a inquiry into the state of Metro Manila’s wastewater and sewerage system, which she identified as the “main factor” in the deterioration of the waters off Manila Bay.

Senator Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Cynthia Villar
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, recently filed Senate Resolution 747 directing an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the condition of wastewater treatment in Metro Manila.

“We still have a long way to go in reviving Manila Bay back to its pristine condition. Sadly, despite our efforts to clean up, water quality in the bay continues to worsen because of poor solid waste management and the lack of facilities for proper wastewater disposal,” Villar said in filing the measure.

Villar recalled that during the environment panel’s hearing last month on the measures and strategies taken by concerned government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa referred to Manila Bay “as a toilet bowl used everyday but never gets flushed.”

She also noted the existence of informal settlers in the Port of Manila who do not have toilet facilities.

In the hearing, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) lamented the lack of sewerage facilities in Metro Manila, saying it is “ten times worse” than Boracay as the country’s capital region only has 14 percent of its required number of sewerage treatment plants.

“Despite the mandate given to MWSS way back in 1971 and the responsibilities given to its concessionaires more than 20 years ago, Metro Manila is still far from having adequate sewerage facilities, which is an indication that there is a failure of implementation and enforcement of the laws with respect to the provision of adequate sanitation, drainage and sewerage facilities even in Metro Manila,” the Villar resolution read.

“And this amounts to a violation of the ‘right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology’ as the people’s health continues to be in peril,” it added.

With the proposed Senate inquiry, Villar said she aims to particularly know from the MWSS and its concessionaires their measures in speeding up the installation of sewerage treatment plants in Metro Manila.

The resolution also seeks to determine whether or not the concessionaires are collecting and using the water utility charges, including the environmental and sewerage charges, from their respective consumers in order to fund the concessionaires’ sewerage projects.