The Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other concerned government agencies until June 30 to come up with concrete steps to implement its December 2008 order to rehabilitate the waters of Manila Bay.
The Court en banc also gave the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) until December 31, 2015 to demolish illegal structures and dwellings along river banks and waterways connected to Manila Bay.
"On or before June 30, 2011, the MMDA shall submit its plan for the removal of said informal settlers and the demolition of the aforesaid houses, structures, constructions and encroachments, as well as the completion dates for said activities, which shall be fully implemented not later than December 31, 2015," the Court said.
The SC ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways and the local government units (LGUs) in Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan to remove illegal settlers near river banks not later than December 31, 2012.
The Court, in a vote of 11-4, admitted that its order may be viewed by some groups as encroachment over the powers and functions of the executive branch.
However, the SC explained that such view "is misplaced" since the implementation of its December 18, 2008 ruling "is but an integral part of the adjudicative function of the Court."
The Court, in its December 2008 decision, dismissed the petition for review filed by MMDA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) seeking to set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeals issued on September 28, 2005.
The CA, in the said ruling, affirmed the order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Imus, Cavite which enjoined the said government agencies to clean-up, rehabilitate Manila Bay and restore its waters to SB classification, or suitable for public bathing and swimming, or for spawning "bangus" (milkfish) and similar fish species.
The DENR, being the primary government agency responsible for the protection of environment, has been tasked to fully implement its Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy for the rehabilitation and conservation of the Manila Bay the soonest possible time.
Other government agencies enjoined to participate in the Manila Bay cleanup were Manila Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Interior and Lcoal Government, affected local government units (LGUs), the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).