MANILA (UPDATED) - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to issue a notice of inspection to as many as 100 businesses suspected of discharging untreated wastewater into the Manila Bay.
Results of a water sampling conducted a few weeks ago showed that restaurants, medical facilities and the zoo leaked massive amounts of wastewater.
River mouths contained an average of 330 million MPN (most probable number) fecal coliform, way above the baseline level of 100 MPN.
“Mayroong isang lugar na may hospital waste. Regardless kung saan siya galing, hospital ba siya, clinic ba siya or any medical facility so may traces na ganu’n. Mayroon naman ’yung massive animal discharges. Tapos mayroon naman ’yung heavy in detergent and food waste na nade-determine namin kung saan ’yung mga ganun,” said Sherwin Rigor, environment undersecretary for attached agencies.
(There is a place with hospital waste. Regardless where it comes from, whether it's from a hospital, a clinic or any medical facility, there were traces. There were also massive animal discharges. Then there are also heavy in detergent and food waste and we can determine where those come from.)
The inspection will give the agency an opportunity to trace the flow and the source of the wastewater, and investigate whether the businesses in question are responsible.
If their culpability is proven, Rigor said they will face closure and fined from P1,000 to P200,000 per day since they started operating, depending on the gravity of their offense. Those culpable will be charged with breaking environmental laws.
The businesses will remain closed until they comply with wastewater treatment regulations.
In a separate interview on ANC, DENR spokesperson Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the agency is not singling out hotels and establishments, and will also look into how informal settlers in the area contribute to the pollution of Manila Bay.
Meanwhile, the Manila Bay Rehabilitation project is set to be launched on January 27, with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and partner agencies discussing their course of action.
Rigor, who holds the project's master plan, said there are 3 phases that will start simultaneously.
“Phase 1, the clean-up which will start from this year to the third year. So 3 years 'yun. [That will be three years.] (Phase 2), 'yung rehabilitation that includes the relocation, infrastructure and everything, that will be from 7 years to 10 years. Tapos [then] we have the (phase 3) enforcement and sustainment, part of that is education, bringing the research, going to the grassroots,” he explained.
The connection of households to a sewerage system through Maynilad and Manila Water is also included in the Phase 2.
There are currently about 13 million out of 16 million member-consumers of Maynilad and Manila Water who are not connected to the system, which means that they could also be discharging their waste directly into the Manila Bay.
The entire project costs some P47 billion, which was recently approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, although which agency or agencies will pick up the tab has not been determined yet.