THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will lead today, Sept. 19, 2020, its yearly coastal cleanup but with no large gatherings and fewer volunteers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
According to Secretary Roy Cimatu, unlike in previous years, there will be no large gatherings this time at the traditional shoreline and creek sites to prevent the transmission of the virus that has already claimed hundreds of thousand lives and transmission to more than a million others.
The Philippines has been an active participant of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day – a global campaign to protect the ocean and its inhabitants.
To mark the local observance, Cimatu said there will be lesser attendees composed mostly government employees who will convene along the coast of the historical Manila Bay on Roxas Boulevard.
Volunteers have been encouraged to follow the government’s health protocols others were told to conduct clean-at-home efforts by reducing plastic waste.
Cimatu stressed that an individual’s duty to keep the shorelines, rivers and waterways clean does not stop even with the pandemic – a task every Juan dela Cruz should take on every single day.
The Environment head gave emphasis on proper disposal of coronavirus wastes, such as single-use face masks and gloves, which have become a new form of pollution threatening marine life and ecosystems.
“The minimal disturbance in our oceans due to reduced water activities has led to a resurgence of marine animals,” Cimatu pointed out although he raised concerns on the threats of their (marine species) existence again with the presence of medical wastes as their new nemesis.
For this year’s ICC, volunteers will be limited to small groups to ensure physical distancing. The use of face masks and face shields will be strictly enforced during the event, along with other health protocols.
After the cleanup, Cimatu will proceed to the site of the Manila Bay beach nourishment project to check on the progress of the ongoing operation to fill a 500-meter portion of the bay area with dolomite sand.
The project includes desilting and introduction of geo-intervention to prevent the sand from being washed out.
Meanwhile, the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) will be taking the ICC Day celebration to every home through the digital platform.
ICC is the world’s largest, volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment.
Every year, volunteers from over 100 countries descend on local beaches, rivers, lakes and canals to show their commitment to cleaner waterways.
The Ocean Conservancy, the world’s largest organization focusing exclusively on the health of the marine environment, has sponsored this annual event for the past 33 years.
For over a decade, the Philippines has had the most number of volunteers in the annual ICC Day around the world.
Last year, more than 20,000 Filipino volunteers joined the cleanup in different areas in the country.