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President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, January 8, 2018, warned hotels near Manila Bay of closure if they do not stop disposing waste into the sea.

Lagyan ninyo ng water treatment [system] ‘yang hotel niyo, ‘pag hindi, sarahan ko ‘yan. Huwag mo akong hamunin. Eh kung wala tayong turista, eh ‘di wala. Hindi naman tayo mamamatay. You do something about your waste there or otherwise I will close it. Sigurado ‘yan,” said Duterte in a press release posted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office on January 9. Duterte was speaking at the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Pasay City.

Duterte added that he has already ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu and the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to start the Manila Bay clean-up.

Earlier today, January 11, DENR officials led by Cimatu inspected the sewage outfalls and drain pipes of establishments along Estero San Antonio De Abad in Manila and La Huerta in Parañaque City.

On a Twitter post, the DENR said they can clean Manila Bay within 1-2 years. Cimatu said “all issues regarding Manila Bay will be addressed simultaneously – informal settlers, cleanup, [and] wastewater.”

During their last flag ceremony for 2018 last December 17, Cimatu announced DENR’s plan to rehabilitate Manila Bay which will “possibly” start in the second week of January.

DENR said that Manila Bay is considered as the most polluted body of water in the Philippines due to “… domestic sewage, toxic industrial effluents from factories and shipping operations, and leachate from garbage dumps.”

A report by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in 2017 found that the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay is over 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters which is a million times higher than the safe level of 100 MPN per 100 ml.

“Coliform refers to the group of enteric bacteria (i.e. living in the intestinal tract. Its presence in a water body is indicative of contamination with fecal matter,” said Deborah V. Simsuangco, Pollutions Control Officer of BiOWiSH Philippines, Inc., a provider of biocatalyst for bioaugmentation, pollution control, and facilities management.

In line with this, Cimatu said they hope to replicate the strategy used in the Boracay clean-up for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay to bring down its coliform level that is fit for swimming, skin diving, and other recreational activities.