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Multi-stakeholder consultations due for Manila Bay master plan

By Catherine Teves

MANILA, Sept. 28 — Government and its partners will develop a comprehensive master plan to save polluted and dying Manila Bay so it can truly regain its capability to be an economic driver.

Manila Bay Coordinating Office Exec. Dir. Noel Gaerlan said beginning next month, government will hold workshops aimed at generating inputs for the plan.

"We want local government units and other stakeholders concerned to join the workshops, be heard and contribute respective inputs and recommendations for the plan," he said Friday on the side of the 2012 Adopt an Estero/Water Body program partners' forum Environmental Management Bureau in Metro Manila.

He said such feedback is essential because interventions in the master plan will be area-specific to better address causes of Manila Bay's woes.

That means such interventions will be those deemed as most appropriate for addressing problems in river systems that drain into Manila Bay, he noted.

"We're campaigning to stop pollution at source," he said.

MBCO is promoting such campaign since cleaning up Manila Bay itself will be useless if people continue to dump their garbage and liquid waste in river systems draining into this water body.

"Such garbage will end up in Manila Bay," he noted.

Gaerlan said the problem of informal settlers' encroachment along and atop waterways must be addressed also to help curb indiscriminate waste dumping.

"We need to take a look at how they can have decent housing," he said.

MBCO has identified four National Capital Region river systems draining into Manila Bay.

Those are Camanava-Quezon City river system, Pasig river system, Paranaque river system and Las Pinas river system.

"About 30 percent of water draining into Manila Bay comes from such river systems," Gaerlan said.

The target master plan will cover those river systems and other networks of waterways flowing into Manila Bay, he noted.

Such networks include Pampanga river system which account for nearly half of discharges into the bay, he continued.

Gaerlan said MBCO targets completing the comprehensive Manila Bay master plan this December.

"We'll submit the plan to (the) Supreme Court to formally manifest commitment of stakeholders concerned to clean up Manila Bay," he said.

Progress on the clean-up will be gauged based on targets specified in the plan.

SC earlier ordered several government agencies to clean up Manila Bay.

To help carry out such task, Department of Environment and Natural Resources implemented its Adopt an Estero program.

Under the program, private companies choose which waterways or portions of these to clean up using respective resources.

DENR complements such efforts by educating communities along the chosen waterways about ills of garbage dumping.

Over 300 private partners as of last month already signed up to join the program, DENR said. (PNA)

HBC/CJT/DMY

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