MANILA – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Saturday said there is a possibility that a portion of the Manila Bay in the baywalk area in Manila may be fit for swimming by the end of the year or even earlier.
Cimatu is hopeful that with the many projects of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who has made the city's cleanup a priority, it would make rehabilitation work easier and quicker.
"'Yung aming time frame kasi noon, of course ‘di naman kami talaga nagbibigay ng deadline o timeframe, but we want really na towards the end of year ay malinis na ito, makapag-swim na. But with the cooperation of the mayor, mapapaaga natin ito," Cimatu told reporters during an inspection of continuing cleanup activities at the Manila Bay.
(Our time frame before, of course you can't really set a deadline or timeframe, but we want really that towards the end of the year, this will be clean, people can swim. But with the cooperation of the mayor, we can do this even earlier.)
Cimatu inspected the baywalk and walked from the part of the bay near the US Embassy to the Manila Yacht Club.
Six months since the Manila Bay rehabilitation officially started, Cimatu said there have been improvements in the water quality and that while there is still trash, it's visibly less compared to previous years.
The bay, while a popular viewing area for sunsets, had been notoriously strewn with trash, with its water quality deemed unsafe for swimming.
“Napakalaking bagay kasi noon talaga napupuno agad dito [ng basura]. Dapat nakikita natin ngayon mga plastic, mga bottles, wala na masyado, kasi nalinisan na,” he said.
(Garbage used to pile up here before. Now, we seldom see plastic and bottles because of the clean-up.)
Cimatu said he was happy with the effects of rehabilitation efforts so far.
He said with the onset of the monsoon season, cleanup efforts may prove more difficult, but he assured that rehabilitation work, including dredging at the bay, would continue despite rains.
Government had initiated cleanup efforts at the Manila Bay earlier this year after President Rodrigo Duterte warned establishments along the bay to comply with environment regulations or face closure.
The government said some 40,000 families living near the bay were also major contributors to pollution.