The rehabilitation of the Manila Bay should go beyond beautification as thousands of fisherfolks depend on the coastal area for their livelihood, Senator Cynthia Villar said on Monday.
In a statement following the observation of the International Day of Coastal Cleanup, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources pointed out that efforts to clean up the Manila Bay is not only aimed at beautifying it.
“Ang rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay ay hindi lamang para sa beautification (The rehabilitation of the Manila Bay is not only for beautification). Napakaimportante na ma-preserve and biodiversity dito dahil maraming kabuhayan ang naka-depende dito. Umaasa sa fish supply ng Manila Bay ang may 300,000 na mangingisda (It is important to also preserve the biodiversity here because people’s livelihood also depend on this. Some 300,000 fishermen are dependent on the fish supply in the Manila Bay),” Villar said.
She said “we still have a long way to go before we restore the bay to its pristine condition” since the issuance of the December, 2008, Supreme Court mandamus which compelled government agencies and local government units to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay.
She said the growing number of volunteers and partner organizations should be recognized for the strides made in the rehabilitation efforts.
“Natutuwa ako dahil mas marami na tayo ngayong volunteers and partners sa ating clean up and mangrove planting activities in Manila Bay. Marami sa kanila ang hindi tumitigil sa paglilinis kahit may pandemya (I am glad because we have more volunteers and partners in our clean-up and mangrove planting activities in Manila Bay. Many of them did not stop despite the pandemic),” she said.
Villar has been taking part in the efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay. In coordination with the Department of Health, she had initiated a project in Baseco Compound to build toilet facilities for the residents and address the problem of open defecation in the area.
She also built livelihood projects such as mangrove planting, urban garden, recycling, and aquaculture. She said Baseco residents are now benefiting from these projects as a source of food or as a source of additional income.
She also opposed reclamation activities in the Manila Bay and pushed for the protection of the 175-hectare Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park against the threat of reclamation through Republic Act 11038, the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, which she authored.
“Ang Manila Bay na kilala sa buong mundo dahil sa napakagandang sunset nito ay gusto din nating patuloy na ma-enjoy ng future generations. Kaya naman nagpapasalamat ako sa mga taong sumusuporta sa paglilinis at rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay (The Manila Bay is also known worldwide for its picturesque sunset and we want our future generations to enjoy this as well. That’s why I am thankful to those who have been supporting the clean-up and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay),” Villar said.
“Umaasa ako na kahit na malayo pa tayo sa end-goal (I hope that even if we are still far away from the end-goal), we continue to inspire others to help us win the Battle for Manila Bay,” she added.
Over the weekend, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources briefly opened to the public its artificial white-sand beach project at the Manila Bay.