Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu hopes that the sight of white sand beach made of dolomite sediments on the Manila Bay baywalk may help change people’s culture and behavior on waste management.
“Napakahalaga na mabago ang kultura at pag-uugali ng mga tao upang tuluyang maisakatuparan ang rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay (It is very important to change the culture and behavior of the people to finally carry out the rehabilitation of Manila Bay),” Cimatu said during the celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day held in Manila Saturday.
It was also during the event that the “white sand” beach was first opened to the public.
He pointed out that “behavior change and sustainment” is the “most difficult” part of the “Battle for Manila Bay” rehabilitation program.
“Gusto kong baguhin ang paniniwala ng tao sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng (white sand) beach dito sa Manila Bay. (I want to change the culture of the people by having a white sand beach in Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.
“Sadly there are those who are telling or accusing us of not contributing solutions. Finding fault just wanting to stop this beach nourishment activities here at Baywalk for reasons that are critical rather than environmental. We will not allow them to deter or distract us,” he added. “We have nothing to fear as long as we know that we are doing something good.”
Cimatu reiterated that the beach nourishment project is critical in rehabilitating coastal areas, such as the Manila Bay, which are generally dynamic areas exposed to constant action of waves, current, tides, and wind.
“I wish to allay fears that the dolomite sand we used for a very small portion along the baywalk has adverse health and environmental effects,” he said.
“Even with the COVID-19 pandemic we were able to complete our task of employing genuine engineering solutions that include the current projects in Manila Bay baywalk area,” he pointed out.
Cimatu said trash booms and silt curtains have been installed to prevent garbage from ending up along the baywalk area.
He also proposed to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who was present during the celebration of the ICC, the construction of two “modern” comfort rooms and souvenir shop at the Baywalk.
Beach nourishment, dredging, and desilting activities will also continue as part of the Manila Bay rehabilitation, Cimatu said.
“The cleanup shall be continuing and sustained by reforming social attitude and behavior towards proactive environmental citizenship and institutionalizing this reforms culturally,” he added.
Cimatu said the construction of a circumferential sewage interceptor and communal septic tank in Baseco, Manila are also underway.
“We are cleaning up not just the coast but also the upstream sources of trash and the cleanup will not end with a short-term slap shot of a trash-free bay,” he also said.
He noted that establishments discharging untreated wastewater into the Manila Bay have been already issued show-cause orders for violation of the Philippine Clean Water Act.
Cimatu also called the attention of establishments along esteros or waterways that are violating the three-meter easement rule. “We will vigorously implement the easement rule,” he said, adding that if these establishments will not shape up, then the DENR will be forced to close them down.