Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, together with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, today led the visit and site inspection of the Manila Bay pursuant to the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court.
Prior to the inspection, Chief Justice Peralta and Sec. Cimatu and contingents from the SC and DENR had a meeting at a nearby hotel in Manila where the Chief Justice was apprised of the status of the clean-up of Manila Bay dubbed as Battle for Manila Bay. The meeting was upon the initiative of the Chief Justice as Chairperson of the SC Manila Bay Advisory Committee. Chief Justice Peralta required DENR, which heads the 13 government agencies tasked in the clean-up, to submit a quarterly report on its progress.
After the meeting, the group proceeded to the Dolomite beach, the Solar-Powered Sewerage Treatment Plant along Roxas Boulevard, among others.
In its report, DENR discussed the clean-up activities currently being undertaken by the concerned agencies. These include the removal of garbage in the river systems, esteros (drainage canals) and water quality improvement, among others. It mentioned that DENR has also hired estero rangers who are specifically tasked to clean up esteros and disseminate information regarding solid waste management.DENR discussed Project Kubeta Ko, or the strategic putting up of clean public toilets in nearby areas.
DENR also mentioned the rehabilitation of Baywalk. Citing a press release of the Department of Health, DENR said that the use of dolomite is not hazardous to health, noting that “the dolomite in natural bulk state is not a known health hazard. Crushed dolomite material is 100 times bigger than dust, therefore does not get suspended in air.” It added that dolomite has been used by several resorts in the country as well as abroad to add aesthetics to their surroundings. It can be recalled that the use of dolomite was heavily criticized by many netizens.
Being data-driven, the Chief Justice, for his part, asked the DENR to submit scientific studies and findings as to the effects of dolomite to people.
The Chief Justice is the only remaining justice of the SC which came out with the directive in 2008 for the 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve the Manila Bay and restore and maintain its water to class SB level, which means that water is suitable for recreational activities such as swimming and skin diving.
“Those who decided the Manila Bay (MMDA vs. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay), most of them have retired. It is only yours truly who is still with the SC. Under Internal Rules of the SC, whoever is still with the Court, and who had participated in that decision will become the ponente or the person in-charge of the case. I am now in charge of the case,” said the Chief Justice.
The SC Manila Bay Advisory Committee is vice-chaired by SC Justice Rodil V. Zalameda, with SC Justice Edgardo L. Delos Santos and Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez as members.
Last January 26, Chief Justice Peralta keynoted the 1st Anniversary of the “Battle for Manila Bay.” The Chief Justice underscored that the right to a clean environment is one of the highest rights afforded to every Filipino and that every generation has the duty to protect the environment. He also committed that the Court will not relent in ensuring the clean-up of Manila Bay through the SC Manila Bay Advisory Committee. ###