Green warriors hold rally for Manila Bay cleanup

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

CLARK FREEPORT -- Members of the Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) and other pro-environment organizations in Pampanga aired their call for the cleanup of Manila Bay.

ADCL President Sonny Dobles said the rally is in line with the Supreme Court (SC) order (a writ of continuing Mandamus), dated December 18, 2008, that directs 14 government agencies "to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay in their different capacities" and restore and maintain its waters, making it fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

The High Court designated the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the primary government agency responsible for the order's enforcement and implementation.

Dobles considered the order as a long battle won by Manila Bay and its supporters-complainants lawyer Jaime Agustin Oposa and other concerned residents of Manila Bay.

The SC also ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government to direct all local government units in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan to inspect establishments and private homes along the river systems that eventually discharge water into Manila Bay.

Dobles said Governor Lilia Pineda had noticed the lack of commitment from local government units under her province, but added that through her initiative, the Manila Bay Day was celebrated in the Province of Pampanga five years later as a wakeup call.

On December 18, eleven of these agencies and the Provincial Government of Pampanga convened at the SM City Ampitheater for a short program that was capped by a declaration of commitment to clean up Manila Bay.

Non-government organizations and other private companies from Central Luzon also showed their support. The ADCL and Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation joined the celebration.

At 6 a.m., members of the ADCL and Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation also walked from the Sta. Monica Church in Mexico Pampanga to SM Pampanga Ampitheater. The Environment Management Bureau (EMB)-Central Luzon headed the walk.

“Rivers surrounding Pampanga, Bataan and other parts of Central Luzon ultimately go to Manila Bay,” said Dobles. “The ADCL is thankful to Governor Baby Pineda for mobilizing the people of Pampanga to celebrate Manila Bay Day.”

"We are very happy because we have long campaigned for LGUs to clean up their act because it is their obligation to implement Republic Act (RA) 9003, to manage their solid waste. Pollution is the biggest problem in Manila Bay. About 1,800 tons of waste from surrounding provinces is washed ashore Roxas Boulevard by heavy rains,” Dobles said.

About 150 members of ADCL from Tarlac and Pampanga woke up in the wee hours to join the walk with their streamer that says: "Ang kaligtasan ng karagatan ay kaligtasan ng sangkatauhan" (Saving the ocean is saving humanity).

Dobles said that with ADCL, the issue on illegal garbage disposal has yet to end.

"We will continue monitoring, and like we did before, we will also continue to file cases to the Ombudsman against those who continue to violate RA 9003. The EMB will become our regular partner in the advocacy against the destruction of the environment especially against illegal dumping of garbage,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 27, 2013.

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