The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) lamented the Makabayan Bloc's call for the government to postpone the Manila Bay Rehabilitation program to pave the way for more "study and consultations."
"We wish to emphasize that Manila Bay is in critical condition. Actually, the bay is in ICU. We cannot afford an additional day of delay. Giving in to Makabayan will only make matters much worse," said DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said that they cannot further postpone the rehabilitation because it has been ordered not only by the President but by the Supreme Court way back in 2008 when it issued a Writ of Continuing Mandamus to the DENR and the DILG, among others.
"This major government undertaking is in compliance with the writ of the Supreme Court. We wish to remind them that on 18 December 2008, the Supreme Court ordered 13 government agencies (referred to as mandamus agencies) to ‘clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make them fit for swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation’,” he said.
He said that "instead of asking for a postponement, the Makabayan Bloc should instead do their part in helping the government fight the ‘Battle of Manila Bay’. The administration has exercised the political will to do what is right. Now it's our turn to do our part."
"Unfortunately, it would seem that the Left in Congress has given in to big business and special interests who will be adversely affected by the closure of businesses and other entities found to be violating environmental laws. Again, they have politicized this supposedly bipartisan issue to gain votes ahead of the party-list elections," he added.
Malaya said that Makabayan's rationale for postponement which is to undertake first a "comprehensive and holistic study" and a "genuine and democratic program that will sincerely" rehabilitate the bay has already been done by both the DENR and the DILG and it only needs to be implemented.
The DILG Spokesperson said that DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año is set to meet with all Metro Manila Mayors tomorrow to discuss ways to expedite the social preparation and transfer of informal settlers to in-city and provincial resettlement sites.
"Secretary Año also seeks to mobilize the cooperation of NCR mayors in monitoring business establishments and other polluters. The support of our LGUs is crucial in the success of our rehabilitation plan," said Malaya.
The DILG is urging all local governments around Manila Bay to set a good example to private establishments—residential and commercial ones—on the compliance with the Clean Water Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
All establishments, particularly those in the Manila Bay area, must ensure that they are connected to sewer lines or have their own sewage treatment plants for proper wastewater disposal, he said.
Malaya also criticized the Makabayan Bloc’s claim that the rehabilitation plan will pave the way for the implementation of 40 reclamation projects. "Again this is clearly misinformation. There is no place for reclamation in the Rehabilitation program. In fact, Secretary Año is personally opposed to reclamation projects."
“With everyone's support, we can clean up Manila Bay, we can sustain it, and we can preserve the revived Manila Bay for future generations,” he said.