Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on all government offices around the Manila Bay region to ensure their compliance with the country’s clean water and solid waste management laws in line with the upcoming rehabilitation of the heavily polluted water body.

Cimatu said that government buildings should set a good example to commercial and residential establishments surrounding Manila Bay and its tributaries in complying with environmental laws, particularly the Clean Water Act of 2004 and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“Manila Bay is in critical condition and proper wastewater discharge and solid waste disposal play a key role to reviving it,” Cimatu said.

The environment chief made the remarks as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other government agencies are set to begin rehabilitation works at Manila Bay on January 27.

Cimatu said that it is important for government offices, particularly those in the Manila Bay area, to make sure they are connected to sewer lines or have their own sewage treatment plants for proper wastewater disposal.

He also reminded them to manage their solid waste to minimize garbage that end up in landfills or oceans.

Solid waste, he said, remains a huge problem in the country owing to non-segregation, rampant use of single-use plastic products and improper waste disposal.

Come January 27, the DENR will clamp down on all establishments discharging untreated wastewater either directly into the Manila Bay or into esteros and rivers leading to the bay.

Establishments found to be ignoring environmental laws could face closure or fine of up to P200,000 a day.

“We will issue notices of violation to non-compliant establishments or we will shut them down,” Cimatu warned. “Until they comply, they cannot operate.”

Cimatu also underscored the need for these establishments to “consciously practice” the 3Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle—for better solid waste management.

“Segregation at source is a simple practice that, when done habitually, will rid not just Metro Manila but the entire country of solid waste that pollutes land, water and air,” he pointed out.

The DENR chief also appealed to local government units to manage their septage by ensuring that all commercial and residential establishments in their areas are treating their wastewater prior to discharge to water bodies.

At the same time, Cimatu said it is also important to educate the residents on their responsibility to help clean up Manila Bay.

“With education, we can clean up Manila Bay, we can sustain it, and we can preserve the revived Manila Bay,” he said. ###