Informal settlers, water hyacinths, solid waste plague Manila Bay rehab--DENR

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) gave a rundown of the problems being faced by its Manila Bay rehabilitation project during the 2023 budget hearings at the House of Representatives.

The main problems mentioned were informal settlements, invasive water plants, and solid waste.

Manila Bay's Dolomite beach (Photo by Noel Pabalate)

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro asked the DENR Friday, Sept. 2 to give the House Committee on Appropriations a breakdown of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program and how the construction of the dolomite beach had affected it.

The DENR’s Manila Bay rehabilitation project is geared toward improving the water quality in the bay. It is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 is for improving the quality of the water in the bay. Phase 2 seeks the rehabilitation of the sewer lines around the National Capital Region (NCR) and the safe relocation of informal settlers. Finally, Phase 3 features an information campaign that seeks to educate the public about the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

The aims is to complete Metro Manila’s sewage system by 2026.


“We are looking very closely at the environmental and social impact of this rehabilitation project and will continue to evaluate it moving forward using our scientific evaluation as well as the social vulnerability evaluation that we intend to implement,” said DENR Secretary Antonia Yulo Loyzaga during the DENR’s budget hearing Friday.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy Jonas Leones clarified that the placement of the controversial dolomite beach project had been completed, as well as the installation of key infrastructure such as comfort rooms and wastewater interceptors.

“Water hyacinth and solid waste is still the major problem in our efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay. That is why we will be closely coordinating with the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and local government units to help us address these concerns,” who Leones, who is in charge of the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“We will also be coordinating with the Department of Urban Housing and Development (DUHD) because of the main problem: the informal settlers living in the river system. We are continuously coordinating with this department to give priority on the relocation and resettlement of these informal settlers,” the DENR official continued.

Castro, in response to the DENR, pointed out that water pump stations in Padre Faura, Remedios, and Estero have not been completed. These are part of the rehabilitation program.

“Nagpalala pa yung sitwasyon ay yung paglalagay natin ng dolomite. Nakita po rin natin na ito yung sinisisi doon sa flooding. Siguro kailangan natin pag-isipan kung ano yung magiging status po nito (The dolomite beach made the situation worse. We’ve seen that this was the cause of flooding. We need to think about what the status of this project will be),” she said.

“Kailangan natin magkaroon ng public consultation lalong-lalo na sa sinasabing informal settler. Parang ito ang sinisisi ng DENR dito sa rehabilitation ng Manila Bay (We also need to have a public consultation especially in regards to the mentioned informal settler issue. It’s as if the DENR is blaming them for the problems behind the Manila Bay rehabilitation),” Castro added.

Castro moved for the committee to require a commitment from the DENR to conduct public consultation with the stakeholders of the Manila Bay rehabilitation project.

Under the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the DENR was allocated with P23.04 billion.

Out of the P23.04 billion, about P10.22 billion was set aside for the DENR’s Natural Resources Conservation and Development Program, with the Manila Bay rehabilitation being one of its sub-programs.