MANILA - Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said Sunday that he will step down from office if reclamation projects at the capital's bay push through amid the ongoing cleanup of the area.
At least 5 firms are seeking government approval for reclaiming areas spanning a total of 1,854 hectares, which is around the size of Pasay, based on documents earlier seen by DZMM Teleradyo.
Epimaco said he opposes the projects as these may cause flooding in Metro Manila.
"Napakasimple lang ng explanation n'yan. 'Pag ang baso ng tubig nilagyan mo ng ice, tataas ang tubig. Magbabaha ang Metro Manila dahil sa reclamation na iyan," he said.
(The explanation there is very simple. It's like putting ice in a glass of water, which causes the water to rise. Metro Manila will be flooded because of that reclamation.)
Epimaco said he does "not have to hold onto his position" if President Rodrigo Duterte would take a differing view on the matter.
"Knowing the President... 'pag ang isang proyekto ay di nakabubuti sa taumbayan, wala nang isip-isip 'yan -- no," he added.
(If a project is not beneficial to the public, he will not have doubts, the decision would be know.)
The cleanup of Manila Bay and surrounding areas started last Jan. 27, following the 6-month rehabilitation of Boracay Island which ended in October last year.
The quality of water off the bay has started to improve while tons of garbage were collected by volunteers and government workers, the environment department said.
Despite these improvements, it is still unsafe to bathe in Manila Bay due to the fecal coliform content of the water, said the agency.
Manila Bay's rehabilitation could take years and is estimated to cost P47 billion, experts earlier said.
Thousands participate in the yearly cleanup of Manila Bay, but the area gets swamped by garbage again during the rainy season. -- Report from Henry Atuelan, ABS-CBN News