By Chito Chavez
Heads are expected to roll as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is zeroing in on 1,000 of the 5,714 barangays who have defied orders to strictly enforce environmental laws in their respective turfs along the Manila Bay Watershed Area.
In a serious bid to rehabilitate the Manila Bay Watershed Area, DILG Undersecretary for Barangay Operations Martin Diño said cases will be filed against erring barangay chairmen before the Office of the Ombudsman who will fail to explicitly provide any justifiable reason for their non-compliance with the DILG order.
In a press conference on Thursday, Martin Diño vowed to issue show-cause orders to the defiant barangay chairmen, saying these 1,000 villages comprise the initial batch of erring barangays.
Through DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09, the department directed 178 local government units and 5,714 barangays along the Manila Bay Watershed Area to conduct weekly clean-up drives in compliance with the order of President Duterte.
But a fuming Diño lashed out the 1,000 barangay chairmen who failed to submit the required weekly reports as directed by the DILG.
Diño accused rogue barangay officials in Metro Manila of allegedly earning “big bucks’’ with the higher volume of garbage since this translates to numerous trips for hauling services that enrich their “pockets”.
He said that local officials responsible for the cleanliness of the Manila Bay include those in Metro Manila, Region 3 (Central Luzon), and Region 4-A (Calabarzon).
Diño said DILG field personnel assigned at the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project regularly submit reports to verify if all the barangay chairmen in the area are compliant.
Meanwhile, he said that the DILG is routinely assessing the bid of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in providing relocation sites for informal settlers.
The DILG official said that relocating the informal settlers living along rivers, esteros, and other tributaries connected to the Manila Bay is very vital, citing that this is one of the main sources of pollution in the bay area.
To quell off claims that the poor are solely being targeted, Diño said even polluting industrial firms and restaurants are being issued notices for their infractions.
With more than 5,000 barangay chairmen covered by the Manila Bay area, Diño said more than half a million volunteers may be tapped to help clean the bay.
President Duterte vowed to enforce the full force of the law, even permanently closing establishments along Manila Bay. If they fail to properly observe environmental rules.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the lead agency in the rehabilitation of the heavily polluted Manila Bay.