Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday said the growing number of volunteers and partner organizations who take part in the clean-up and mangrove planting activities should be credited for the strides made in the Manila Bay rehabilitation campaign.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, made the remark as the International Day of Coastal Cleanup was observed over the weekend.
“I’m happy because there are many volunteers and partners in our clean up and mangrove planting activities in Manila Bay. Many of them did not stop cleaning despite the pandemic,” Villar said.
Almost 12 years after the issuance of the Supreme Court mandamus compelling government agencies and local government units to clean up and rehabilitate Manila Bay, she admitted that “we still have a long way to go before we restore the bay to its pristine condition.”
Five years ago, Villar started a project in Baseco Compound. Together with the Department of Health, she initiated a project that will build toilet facilities for the residents and address the problem of open defecation in the area.
She also built livelihood projects such as mangrove planting, urban garden, recycling, and aquaculture. Baseco residents are now benefitting from these projects as a source of food or as a source of additional income.
The lady senator also continues to be at the forefront of the fight against Manila Bay reclamation. The Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park, a 175-hectare critical area situated south of Manila Bay, is a Wetland of International Importance that was accorded protection against the threat of reclamation through the Villar-authored Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.
Also in a bid to increase awareness on the importance of this wetland as a sanctuary of migratory birds and haven of flora and fauna, Villar helped build facilities in the area such as a wetland center, visitor’s center, bird hides, boardwalk, and view towers, for the convenience of people looking to enjoy the wonders of this park.
“The rehabilitation in Manila Bay is not only for beautification. It is very important to preserve athe biodiversity here because of many livelihood are dependent on it. About 300,000 fishermen are depending on their fish supply here, Villar said.
“And of course, Manila Bay is world-renowned due to its beautiful sunset. We want the future generation to enjoy this. I hope that although we are still far from end-goal, we continue to inspire others to help us win the Battle for Manila Bay,” she added.