LandBank to offer loans for sewage treatment in Manila

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2019 05:47 PM

MANILA - LandBank on Tuesday offered a credit program for businesses that need to construct their own sewage treatment plants (STP) to adhere to the national government’s push to reduce coliform at the Manila Bay.

Local government units, any business registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and cooperatives may apply for the loan to procure materials for STPs, sanitary landfills and other pollution-reducing systems, said LandBank Executive Vice President Julio Climaco. 

Businesses can also borrow money to purchase garbage trucks and equipment for clean energy, he said.

For a business to qualify for the STP credit program, it must:

  • Have its office/establishment located in an area where wastewater goes directly to bodies of water that contribute to the pollution of the Manila Bay
  • Be included in the government’s list of Manila Bay polluters
  • Have the capacity to repay loans based on its cash flow
  • Have been operating profitably in the last 3 years

“Manila Bay is more than just a scenic view in our office. Fisherfolk from 178 local government units rely on the Manila Bay for their livelihood,” said Climaco.

The loan package was launched months after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shut down establishments that would not comply with the local government’s directive to rehabilitate Manila Bay.

In January 2019, government found that fecal coliform in the body of water was between 54 million and 1.33 billion most probable number (mpn). This is at least 540,000 percent higher than the 100-mpn coliform level ideal for swimming.

The government has yet to test current coliform levels in the Manila Bay, Environment Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna told ABS-CBN News.

So far, 45 of the 84 establishments that received notices of violations have complied with the government’s environmental policies, said Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Jaime Medina, who is part of the Manila Bay Sunset Partnership Project.

LandBank’s new loan program also comes 2 months after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abolish the state bank for capitalizing on commercial banking instead of focusing on its mandate to finance agricultural enterprises.

As of August 2019, Landbank’s non-agriculture loans amounted to P524.86 billion, but roughly a third of that amount or P177.32 billion accounted for credit for farmers and fisherfolk, state-run Philippine News Agency earlier reported.

“Land Bank should go back to land. Why are you mired in so many commercial transactions?” Duterte said. “Bumalik kayo (go back to) where you were created for and that is to help the farmers.”