Mayors in Metro Manila have agreed to help the government relocate at least 220,000 squatter families living along Manila Bay.
In a meeting held at the Metro Manila Development Authority main office in Makati City, the local chief executives expressed support for the simultaneous cleanup operations and promised to coordinate with the National Housing Authority and the Department of Interior and Local Government on the relocation.
In attendance during the meeting were Mayors Edwin Olivarez, Parañaque City; John Reynald Tiangco, Navotas City; Rexlon Gatchalian, Valenzuela City; Imelda Aguilar, Las Piñas City; Robert Eusebio, Pasig City; and Miguel Ponce III, Pateros.
The local government units also agreed to extend support to the long-term plan to clean the bay.
Apart from actually cleaning the foreshore areas of Manila, the campaign seeks to educate the public on the need to properly manage their garbage and avoid these from reaching Manila Bay.
Authorities attributed the heavy pollution to residents and squatters living along and near Manila Bay.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said there is a need to change the habit of people, particularly squatters living near esteros, of disposing their waste into the bay.
Lim said an integrated effort is needed for Manila Bay’s restoration and “local government units have big roles in the success of this undertaking.”
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu had also sought the backing of the mayors when his agency issues cease and desist orders to business establishments found violating environmental laws.
Cimatu said LGUs have the authority to issue suspension or cancellation of business permits of commercial establishments polluting the bay.
“We have to show that we are one in this effort,” said Cimatu.
Moreover, compliance of factories and other business establishments with environmental laws will also be reviewed.
He also appealed to the mayors to order barangay captains to conduct regular cleanup activities on esteros and rivers connected to the bay.
The massive Manila Bay rehabilitation program has three phases: The cleanup, the rehabilitation and resettlement, and education and sustainment.