Wed, 17 Jul 2019

Battle for Manila Bay: Another Rushed Rehab

12 Feb 2019, 15:13 GMT+10

Volunteers flock the baywalk along Roxas Boulevard in Manila for the Manila Bay cleanup on February 2.

GARBAGE ALONG the baywalk may have been removed, but the stench remains.

Following the rehabilitation of Boracay island last year, the government set its eyes on Manila Bay as its new rehab project with the Environment Departmentleading the task. The so-called Battle for Manila Bay, a three-phase and possibly seven-year project, kicked off Sunday, January 27, with hundreds joining a solidarity walk along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

The clean-up that day yielded 11 truckloads of garbage. Social media showed up photos of the acclaimed cleaner Manila Bay.

Media noted the worthiness of the project. No one can question the effort to restore what was one the pride of the metropolis. Reports must go into the immensity of the challenge and not be satisfied with the obvious — crowds milling at what had been done so far.

So far, government has not provided detailed information about the projects long-term plan and budget breakdown; so media should look into more than just the cleanup of the shoreline. Swimming is still banned, making obvious that the work has not gone deeper than surface waters. Reports should turn public attention to the different parts of the Manila Bay project so the public can appreciate the immensity of the undertaking

CMFR cheers Rappler for noting the complexity which caused the degradation of the bay, pointing to the need of a solid and coordinated plan for its rehabilitation.

Rapplers report Manila Bay Rehab: High Hopes, Murky Plans on February 5 is rich with information and reference. It described the pollution as but the tip of more multidimensional problems of Manila referring to clogged waterways, lack of proper housing for informal settlers, and poverty.

Rappler recalled that the government had tapped Maynilad, a private company providing water and waste water services, to manage Manilas sewage system.

The coverage of Maynilads concession areas has reached only 20% since its operations in 1997. The report went on to detail the high costs of sewage facilities and even more expensive tertiary level treatment facilities.

Rappler also examined the data on poverty incidence and found that Manilas is the highest among the cities in the National Capital Region, with the poorest located in its Port Area. With the rehab in full swing, there are no clear plans for the relocation of informal settlers. In fact, such plans to relocate settlers on waterways leading to Manila Bay have been in place since 2013. The strategy, however, has been unsuccessful.

It has taken decades of neglect to create a cesspool out of a magnificent body of water. No quick solution can clean it up and reclaim its natural bounty and beauty. Media coverage should be the first to scrutinize the way an administration takes on such showcase projects.

The Manila Bay is bigger than Boracay, but the lessons are similar. And media coverage of either endeavour should move beyond cheering; to the more difficult assessment of how well or poorly the work has been done.

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