MANILA - The capital's local government on Thursday denied social media rumors that it is asking volunteers to pay for a permit to participate in the cleanup of Manila Bay.
The alleged fee for volunteers may be part of a political smear tactic ahead of the midterm elections in May, said Manila Administrator Ericson Alcovendaz.
Volunteers only need to submit a letter stating the schedule of their clean-up and any request for assistance, he added.
"Lahat ng gustong maglinis sa Manila Bay, welcome po sila," Alcovendaz told ABS-CBN News. "Inaayos po natin kasi maraming organizations, NGOs, fraternities na gustong maglinis."
(Everyone who wants to clean Manila Bay, they're welcome. We are just fixing these because many organizations, NGOS and fraternities want to join.)
Thousands of government workers and volunteer collected tons of garbage from Manila Bay during the launch of its rehabilitation last Jan. 27.
The water quality off the bay has started to improve, but is still unsafe for swimming, the environment department said.
Authorities on Wednesday fenced off the shoreline from the US Embassy to Manila Yacht Club, an area where the sunset lures hundreds of tourists daily, to prevent those who may attempt to swim in the polluted waters.
Experts earlier said the cleanup of the whole bay and its surrounding areas could take years and is estimated to cost P47 billion. The project came after Boracay island underwent a 6-month rehabilitation that ended in October last year.
Report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News