Mandamus Partner Agencies Shared Updates and Innovations in Saving Manila Bay

Members of the fourteen agencies involved in the implementation of the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) presented the latest updates and innovations in webinar entitled “Saving Manila Bay: The Mandamus Battle Rages On”, last May 27 to 28, 2021. 

More than 200 attended this webinar via Zoom conferencing and Facebook Live, which invited speakers from the different agencies involved in the OPMCBS to share their respective updates and plans. The 14 agencies who implemented the OPMBCS aims to restore and maintain Manila Bay’s water to SB level intended for bathing swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation.

The two-day webinar aimed to acknowledge the efforts and best practices of the Mandamus agencies in the Province of Laguna in rehabilitating the Manila Bay; as well as to increase the awareness of the public, researchers, students and other stakeholders on the activities conducted by the different Mandamus agencies; it also served as a venue for discussion to strengthen the initiatives set in the OPMBCS; and invited the participation and gain the cooperation of all stakeholders in the achievement of the “Manila Bayanihan Para sa Kalinisan” advocacies.

During the opening program, Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM-UPLB, emphasized the need and significance of multi-stakeholder cooperation to achieve the management, protection and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay. Meanwhile, Forester Ronilo L. Salac, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Laguna, highlighted that the DENR, together with the national agencies are implementing different strategies and programs in effect of the Mandamus despite the CoVID-19 pandemic. 

During day one, For. Melvin L. Lantican, Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist of PENRO-LAGUNA presented the overview of the continuing Mandamus on the OPMBCS. “The implementation was based on the Writ of the Continuing Mandamus Supreme Court ruling 10 years ago, which mandated the 14 government agencies to clean-up, rehabilitate, preserve, restore, and maintain Manila Bay’s classification to SB level”, For. Lalican added.

Mr. Jan Emmanuel M. Gustillo, Project Development Officer III of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Laguna, discussed the role of DILG in terms of compliance assessment, validation, and monitoring of the 30 LGUs within the Manila Bay area. “Last year, only 20 out of the 30 LGUs are compliant in terms of implementing programs pertaining to wastewater and solid waste management, informal settler relocation, and IEC”, Mr. Gustillo stressed.

For. Laureana C. Estorque, Assistant PEMO of DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, presented the salient provisions of RA 6969 otherwise known as the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990. In relation to RA 6969, Engr. Virginia L. Fabros, Provincial Sanitary Engineer of Laguna, presented the rationale behind Healthcare Waste Management. This is very timely because of the CoVID-19 pandemic, as the public is generating a substantial volume of PPE wastes on a daily basis.

Dr. Antonio J. Alcantara, MENRO of the Municipality of Los Baños, and currently an adjunct professor of UPLB-SESAM, stressed the need to formulate the Municipality of Los Baños Water Quality Management Action Plan and incorporate it in its Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) and other related local plans. “We are planning to establish a fish sanctuary in Laguna de Bay, as part of the initiative toward freshwater ecosystem conservation and management”, he added. Dr. Alcantara also emphasized that behavioral change, harmonious collaboration within various stakeholders, strict enforcement of policies and consistencies of local plans and policies are needed to sustain all efforts in preserving and restoring our freshwater ecosystems and ensure water security. 

On day two, Mr. Cesar R. Quintos, Division Chief III, Policy Planning and Information Management Division of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), shown an audio-visual presentation about the benefits and challenges of the Laguna de Bay region and its initiatives, plans, projects, and programs. “Based on our studies, 81% of the pollution load of Laguna lake came from domestic wastes”, said Mr. Quintos. He also emphasized that environmental pressures like invasive species and flooding results in poor water quality of the lake.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ulysses M. Montojo, Chief Science Research Specialist, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Research gave us an idea of the status and info about Aquaculture surrounding the provinces of Manila Bay. Dr. Montojo said that Manila bay suffered severe water quality deterioration due to pond fertilization and feeding (open culture system), the rapid increase of population/urbanization and industrialization that emits heavy metals. 

The Department of Education (DepEd) showcased a very interesting innovation called the Personalized Emergency Pillow. This pillow, which is made of 100% recycled plastic, was piloted by Sta. Catalina Integrated National Highschool in Majayjay, Laguna. This project aims to reduce waste generation, especially to lessen plastic wastes in the communities; and using the pillow as a head cushion against falling debris during an earthquake. This activity of DepEd taught students, teachers, and parents to segregate their wastes properly, to practice reuse and recycle waste. The teachers who presented this pillow, Ms. Rosie M. Rogado and Mr. Aldin C. Urian said the activity taught students, teachers, and parents to segregate their wastes properly, to practice reuse and recycle waste. “This activity is an evident to the DepEd Core Values: Maka-Diyos, Makakalikasan, Makatao at Makabansa”, Ms. Rogado said.

This event was organized by the Continuing Education and Training Division (CETD) of the School of Environmental Science and Management-University pf the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB). For. Sofia A. Alaira, Head of CETD-SESAM, highlighted the significance of such activity to enhance the awareness, appreciation, cooperation, and engagement of all stakeholders. She also expressed her gratitude to the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) based in PENRO Laguna for supporting the activity. (TPLawas, ENTCando and RNBayot)