Ninety-five local government units (LGUs) or 53 percent of the 178 LGUs from Metro Manila, Regions III and IV-A within the Manila Bay Watershed Area have failed in complying with environmental laws, according to an assessment conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año says that based on the 2018 Regional Inter-Agency Committee table assessments and on-site inspections, these LGUs failed to hit the indicators gauging their compliance to existing environmental laws and 16 of these with the worst problems will be prioritized by the Department.
"Based on our assessment, we still have a lot of work to do, and we intend to start with these 16 LGUs as we go along assisting all of 178. We will help them, hindinaminsilapababayaan," says Año.
Of the 95 LGUs that failed the assessment, 56 are from Central Luzon; 37 from Calabarzon; and two from the National Capital Region (NCR).
"Maraming pagkukulangnanagdulot ng dekadangproblemasa Manila Bay. But we are not here to point fingers anymore, we, through the directive of the President, are here to bring back the Bay to its former glory and we need all LGUs to do their part," he explains.
But the DILG Secretary also warns those LGUs who would not cooperate with the DILG's efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay. "We can also file cases against them with the Ombudsman or recommend disciplinary action to the President, if warranted. So we challenge all LGUs to shape up. We need them to fight and win the Battle for Manila Bay," he says.
The results of the LGU Compliance Assessment were released to the LGUs during the local government executives' forum on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay held recently.
The assessment aims to assess LGU compliance to existing environmental laws and policies; identify necessary assistance needed by LGUs; and demand accountability from LGUs based on their actions/inactions based on their mandates.
Año says that depending on the assessment, the DILG can extend the provision of capacity development, workshops, coaching and mentoring, among others to ensure that the LGUs are fully capable of exercising their mandates.
"Kung ang problema ng LGU ay ang creation of drainage master plan para mas maging maayos ang kanilang liquid waste management, we can hold capacity development programs para sa kanila, this assistance, ibibigay ng Kagarawan para sa kanila," he says.
The DILG also committed the issuance of relevant directives, inter-agency joint memoranda, consultations, and download of funding, among others.
According to the DILG Chief, apart from its current efforts to assist the LGUs, the Department also devised a continuing plan to address LGUs' problem areas in Solid Waste Management; Liquid Waste Management; Informal Settlers Families (ISF); and Biodiversity Management.
The DILG chief is also looking at establishing the DILG Manila Bay Rehabilitation Task Force which will be composed of task groups such as: Law Enforcement and Security Task Group; Barangay Clean-up and Enforcement Task Group; Informal Settler Families Relocation Task Group; LGU Supervision and Capacity Development Task Group; and Inspection and Permit Issuance Task Group.
Año also underscores that the DILG will continue its stringent monitoring of LGU compliance on the environmental laws for the clean-up, rehabilitation, and preservation Manila Bay.
He says that LGUs will be monitored through the LGU Compliance Assessment tool which will gauge their compliance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Urban Development and Housing Act, the Water Code, and other related environmental laws.
Año explains that through the LGU Compliance Assessment tool, the DILG will determine which LGUs committed violations under existing environmental laws and which are compliant.
No ECC, No business
In the same forum, Año encouraged LGUs to pass ordinances that will ensure that businesses without the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) will not be allowed to operate.
“You have to be consistent na kapag walang ECC, hindi na makakatuloy ang business. And if there are violations, make them pay the fine,” he said.
He also addressed the rehabilitation’s critics saying that “detractors would always have an opinion about the administration’s undertakings” and encouraged the LCEs to be focused on the noble cause of rehabilitating the Bay.
“Ang masama ay iyong mga detractors natin ay wala naman ginawa nung sila ang nakaupo. Sana tumulong na lang sila,” he pointed out.