MANILA - Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu admitted Wednesday his department may not be able to meet its target date of completion of the Manila baywalk rehabilitation, after he inspected the area during the second anniversary of the program.
He said they are not in a hurry to finish the “centerpiece of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program” since it will be dependent on the completion of the beach nourishment, which includes the much-talked about dolomite white sand project and the treatment plant.
Four illegal outfalls were discovered recently, which the agency attributes to the high coliform level of the water at the Manila Bay.
Two of them have been sealed but the agency is still working on sealing the rest as they are covered by large boulders that need to be removed.
Improving the water quality is the hardest part in the goal to clean Manila Bay, said Cimatu.
“It is the water quality because this is the mission and objective given to us by the Mandamus of the Supreme Court. We will bring down the coliform level of this baywalk to make it swimmable with a coliform level not exceeding 100 MPN. So ito 'yung challenge natin,” he explained.
Cimatu added that the agency may not be able to complete everything since pollutants are coming from all sources.
“Especially the estero but we will hand over to the next generation the continuation of the clean-up because that is really our main objective. The real causes of these is coming from the garbage, coming from the esteros, coming from the rivers,” he said.
The environmental department, with the Laguna Lake Development Authority, is still tracing the establishments that have been discharging wastewater into the Manila Bay through illegal pipes and outfalls.
However, Cimatu said they will give these establishments the benefit of the doubt.
“We will really check if they know that they are connected to the illegal pipes. Baka hindi rin nila alam, na baka akala nila, this is sanctioned by the government, so we will look into that. Hindi nga yata nila alam na nakakonekta sila sa illegal pipes,” he said.