JV Ejercito says sewage treatment should've been prioritized over aesthetics in Manila Bay rehab

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2021 04:09 AM

Senatorial aspirant JV Ejercito on Thursday said government should have prioritized the building of sewage treatment plants (STPs) over aesthetics in its rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

Ejercito said it was possible to rehabilitate the bay similar to the Iloilo River, which has become a popular fishing ground amid efforts to improve its water quality. 

"Dapat inuna po ’yung pag-operate ng mga STPs," Ejercito said in Teleradyo's "Sino SENyo" roundtable interview of senatorial candidates.

"Lahat ng mga pollutants ay hahanapin ang source and maglalagay ng mga STP sa mga strategic areas na meron pong outflow papunta pong Manila Bay."

("The operation of STPs should have been prioritized. We should find the source of all of the pollutants and place STPs at strategic areas that have water flowing toward Manila Bay.")

Ejercito, running under the Nationalist People's Coalition or NPC, is the son of deposed President Joseph "Erap" Estrada. He was senator from 2013 to 2019. He ran for re-election in 2019, but lost. 

Other candidates who joined Ejercito on "Sino SENyo" were former lawmaker Neri Colmenares running under the Makabayan Bloc, environmental activist David D'Angelo of Partido Lakas ng Masa, and former senator Antonio Trillanes IV of the Liberal Party. 

Meanwhile, Trillanes called Manila Bay's dolomite beach pointless. He also agreed with Ejercito that STPs should be built and sources of waste in Manila Bay eliminated. 

"Ginawa ’yan noong panahon ng pandemya, malaking gastos. Tapos in the end, kung hahayaan lang ’yan, matatabunan lang din ’yan ng basura at burak. Isang bagyo lang ’yan mawawala na ’yan," he said. 

("The beach was made in the middle of a pandemic. A lot of money was spent on it. In the end, it will be covered in garbage and mud. It will disappear after one storm.") 

D'Angelo called for a reforestation of mangroves near Manila Bay, while Colmenares warned of the potential health risks dolomite posed on people. 

Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach, still closed to the public, has been criticized as wasteful as it was done in the middle of a public health crisis. It is estimated to cost at least P28 million. 

Trillanes slammed the Duterte administration's response to COVID-19, saying it showed lack of leadership, corruption, and incompetence. 

"Nakita naman natin, si Duterte, once a week lang nagpapakita sa taumbayan," he said. " ’Yun lang presence niya, then after nu’n nagkakagulo-gulo na ang iba't-ibang ahensya."

("We saw that Duterte only shows up to the people once a week. That's it. After that, the different government agencies fall into chaos.")

Colmenares said Duterte did not do everything in his power to address the health crisis and mistakenly treated it as a peace and order issue. 

"Halimbawa, lockdown ng lockdown, wala namang ayuda. President Duterte borrowed P2.6 trillion in 2020. Nitong 2021, P3 trillion, ni hindi sumayad sa labi ng mga mahihirap ’yung ayuda diyan," Colmenares said. 

("For example, the government keeps enacting lockdowns even though it does not give people financial aid. President Duterte borrowed 2.6 trillion pesos in 2020. In 2021, he borrowed 3 trillion pesos. But none of that reached the poor in the form of financial assistance.") 

For Ejercito, the pandemic exposed the weakness of the country's health system, while D'Angelo accused the government of being reactive to the crisis instead of proactive. 

The country recently ranked last out of 53 countries in Bloomberg's COVID-19 Resilience Ranking for the third straight month. The Duterte administration has criticized the ranking and claimed it was biased to western countries. 

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