Manila Bay rehab a larger undertaking than Boracay

A clean-up of Manila Bay is underway, as the its shores were covered in heaps of wet trash, brought about by the onslaught of Typhoon Karding last August. Photo credit: Greenpeace Philippines

An extensive clean-up has kicked off at the badly polluted Manila Bay, Philippines, expected to cover 190km of coastline and a scope that includes sanitation infrastructure, resettlement and long-term education.

An industry source, requesting anonymity, said the Bay’s stench and brackish waters are a setback to cruising and there were several instances when hotels were heavily damaged by storm surges and flooding.

Shores of Manila Bay covered in trash brought in by Typhoon Karding last August (photo credit: Greenpeace Philippines)

“Even the famous sunset over Manila Bay is affected by pollution and tons of trash swept on the shore after the typhoons (have not been) good for our image,” he complained.

Manila Bay’s clean-up kicked off with the closure of several restaurants and other establishments found to have violated environmental laws by dumping their waste on the bay. On January 27, thousands of volunteers retrieved large amounts of trash from the bay.

Environment secretary Roy Cimatu announced the three phases of the rehabilitation: clean-up and improvement of water quality, rehabilitation and resettlement, and education and sustainment.

There’s no timeline yet for the mammoth project for Manila Bay which snakes around 190km of coastline, spanning three regions including National Capital Region to which Manila belongs.

The rehabilitation of the Bay will be on a larger scale than the ongoing clean-up of Boracay, as it is expected to also involve cleaning waterways, updating old sewer lines, relocating informal settlers, sustained law enforcement and monitoring, among other things.

“We support the initiative to clean up Manila Bay, one of the attractions of the capital. It’s a long time coming,” said Jojo Clemente, president, Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP).

“I’m really liking that businesses are now being called out for years of environmental damage. I hope this continues and that those found to have (inadequate or no) waste management systems are held accountable,” he continued.

Ritchie Tuano, newly elected president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), said that “in principle, we support any initiative of the government that promotes and improves tourism”.

TCP plans to meet up with tourism stakeholders, while PTAA will organise a meeting with its members to tackle the Bay’s rehabilitation.

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