Pampanga celebrates Manila Bay Day Wednesday

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Thousands are expected to participate in a walk-for-a-cause as Pampanga celebrates Manila Bay Day on Wednesday.

Themed "I am Manila Bay. Everything I do to Manila Bay, I do it to myself and my family," the celebration will be graced by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje -- who will deliver the State Of Manila Bay Address -- Governor Lilia Pineda, City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Luzon director Maximo Dichoso, heads of government agencies and other local government units from Pampanga, as well as representatives from the private sector and officials from parts of the region.

The commemoration and renewed calls for the Manila Bay clean-up and protection advocacy comes exactly a year after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the vital waterway.

On Tuesday, the local Manila Bay Day technical working group (TWG) headed by Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Officer Engr. Art Punsalan and Department of Interior and Local Government provincial director Myrvi Favia, finalized activities for the celebration, which will converge at the SM City Pampanga Amphitheater after the 6 a.m. walk from four staging or "leg" areas in this city and Mexico town.

"The celebration actually marks the first year the Supreme Court came down with a mandamus for Manila Bay. Manila Bay Day aims to raise the consciousness of not only the mandamus agencies and government officials, but also the private sector and the whole community. We want it to be known that Manila Bay is everyone’s business and not just of those near it," Favia said.

She told Sun.Star Pampanga that a highlight of Manila Bay Day is the implementation of the program for informal settlers living near coastal areas and banks of rivers connected to the bay.

"It is part of the five-year program of the clean-up where informal settlers within three-meters of major waterways leading to Manila Bay will have to be relocated. All barangays and the 21 mandamus agencies will jointly implement the program. That is exactly their work," added Favia.

For his part, Punsalan disclosed that some P37 billion will be needed in the five-year Manila Bay clean-up, with each of the 21 mandamus agencies led by the DENR chipping in around P800,000 to P1 million each.

"That is why our beloved Governor Lilia Pineda directed the Pampanga Manila Bay TWG to come up with complementing programs and projects. She does not want this to end with the celebration of Manila Bay Day. Aside from the regular clean-up of waterways every first Saturday of each month, Capitol and the TWG will come up with other sustainable and manageable environmental programs related to save Manila Bay and the Pampanga River which connects to it," said Punsalan.

The Manila Bay Day walk for cause will jump off from Leg 1 at Jomafer Supermarket in Barangay Dolores and will have all national agencies, regional directors, Philippine Coast Guard, Local Water Utilities Administration, Philippine National Police, the Department of Public Works and Highways 1st Engineering District and the Mt. Pinatubo PMO; Leg 2 at Heroes Hall will be composed of the DENR Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija, Bureau of Fire Protection, the 7th ID of the Philippine Army, and selected local government units and barangays; from Leg 3 in Sta. Monica Church in Mexico town will come representatives of the private sector, civil societies, NGOs and the religious sector; and from the command post of Leg 4 at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in this city will march officials of the Provincial Government of Pampanga, Provincial Board, Pampanga congressmen and other local executives.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 18, 2013.

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