Cimatu eyes relocation of more families near Manila Bay as part of bay rehab program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 26) — The government is aiming to relocate more informal settlers living near Manila Bay as part of continuing efforts to rehabilitate the waterway.

Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said they plan on relocating families living in Baseco and Parola — which are located near waterways that flow directly to Manila Bay — within the year.

Cimatu also said there are plans to transfer informal settlers living near Pasig River.

He said removing informal settlers from these areas would further bring down coliform levels in Manila Bay.

On the first anniversary of the launch of the Manila Bay cleanup drive, Cimatu said while government has a long way to go in rehabilitating the Bay, its water quality has greatly improved.

DENR data said fecal coliform level at the Baywalk area is now at less than 100 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters Compared to 300 million last year.

Meanwhile, the coliform level at Baseco is now at 53,000 MPN from one million in 2019.

The safe level is 100 MPN/100 ml.

Cimatu says DENR will also step up its cleanup drive of esteros and waterways leading to Manila Bay to further improve its water quality.

While the biggest threat in the so-called "Battle for Manila Bay" is water pollution, it is not limited to human waste.

"It's partly true that it's a lot of trash from residential houses, but believe it or not, what killed Pasig River was not plastics, it's a lot of other things. So the DENR's monitoring a lot more than just the solid waste problem. When we look at the whole Manila Bay we look at the nitrates, the phosphates, the heavy metals. And plastics as part of solid waste is only part of the problem," said Paolo Pagaduan, manager of the World Wildlife Fund's Forest for Water program.

CNN Philippines correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.