SENATOR Loren Legarda yesterday urged all sectors of society to do their share in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
“I fully support the government in its planned rehabilitation of the Manila Bay. It is long overdue and I hope we can all work together to ensure its success,” said Legarda.
“We should have a sustainable restoration program for the Manila Bay which should include the strict enforcement of laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act. We must ensure that the liquid waste from households and other establishments are treated before disposal and that solid waste are not thrown into its waters,” she added.
The senator said that all local government units (LGUs) in the Manila Bay area should enforce the ESWM Law and have a materials recovery facility (MRF) and sewage system.
In 2013, Legarda conducted a Senate briefing on the status of compliance with the Supreme Court’s Writ of Continuing Mandamus issued in 2008 ordering various government agencies to clean up Manila Bay. Since then, she has been urging concerned agencies to fast track the much-needed rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
Legarda also noted the evident habitat loss and degradation around the Bay area, such as diminishing mangrove forests, coral reefs and seagrass beds, affecting the capability of the Bay to sustain marine life.
Records from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) show that in 1890, about 54,000 hectares of mangrove surrounded the bay. A hundred years later, or in 1990, only 2,000 hectares of mangrove remained; and in 1995, only 794 hectares remained.
The senator stressed that “Mangroves are one of the most important ecosystems because they serve not only as nursery grounds for various fish species but also as shield from storm surges and rising sea levels.”
Legarda also stressed the economic benefits of Manila Bay. A humble estimate of the economic value of selected major uses of the Bay, such as offshore fisheries, aquaculture, ports and harbors, and tourism, is placed at P8.7 billion annually.
“Let us reclaim Manila Bay’s stunning beauty and proclaim its significance. And let us, above all, work towards a healthy, sustainable and disaster resilient future through concerted cleanup efforts,” said Legarda.