MANILA - The tourism department said Wednesday it "fully supports" President Rodrigo Duterte's order to rehabilitate the Manila Bay, which has long been plagued by a trash problem.
In a statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said it would hold consultations with the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force to "ensure that accredited tourism establishments in all parts of the country will conform with the highest standard of environmental conservation."
The task force had led the 6-month rehabilitation of Boracay island, which was plagued by sewage woes, unregulated development, and overcrowding. The beach destination reopened to tourists in October.
"We will continue to strengthen our partnership with the industry and national and local government agencies to ensure the sustainable development and management of this economic sector," it said.
"We recognize that such efforts are for the best interest of the tourism industry and are in line with the thrust of the DOT to create a culture of sustainable tourism."
Duterte on Tuesday said he has directed Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to take charge of the rehabilitation efforts on the Manila Bay, a popular spot to view the sunset.
The President warned hotels and other establishments facing the Manila Bay to comply with environmental regulations or face closure.
“Whether they like it or not, lahat itong, itong mga hotel, ‘yung palabas niyong mga tae ng mga turista… lagyan niyo ng water treatment kung hindi pasarahan ko iyan,” Duterte said in a speech in Pasay City.
(Whether they like it or not, all these hotels, the waste discharge from tourists... put water treatment there or else I will shut them down.)
Garbage from nearby provinces like Cavite and Laguna are often blamed for the sorry state of the bay. In the wake of storms, trash usually pile up on the breakwater and even further inland into Roxas Boulevard.
The rehabilitation will require the relocation of thousands of illegal settlers, whose household waste contribute to 70 percent of pollution in the area, DENR Spokesperson Jonas Leones earlier said.
The effort would, meanwhile, need some P47 billion in funds, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda earlier said.