Former House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada calls on private water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water to closely look at the kind of sewerage services they provide to Metro Manila residents considering the volume of wastewater that flows into Manila Bay that caused this much damage.
“We are paying sewerage fees to these companies for decades and yet only 15 percent of water consumers are connected to sewer lines. This means the Bay remains to be Manila’s toilet bowl,” Tañada lamented.
As provided in the concession agreement with the two companies, full sewer and sanitation coverage should be 100 percent by 2037 which is important in removing contaminants from the wastewater before it is dumped in rivers and bays.
Comprehensive and people-centered plan
While cleaning the Manila Bay is a welcome idea, Tañada urged the government to ensure that the rights of around 220,000 families settled along the coasts be protected.
“People go there despite the obvious health and human security risks because they need to survive. It’s never heaven to live around the coasts. Cleaning the area shouldn’t be at the cost of more families going into deeper poverty.” He said government must develop a relocation plan with details on livelihood and compensation schemes and have this plan adopted by the affected communities.
“It will be dangerous for government to start negotiations with businesses and development banks on investment plans without a strategic and people-centered map to carry out the rehabilitation. We have seen how rehabilitation plans have put countries in more debts, poverty, and environmental risks because of bad planning,” he said.
Tañada said that merely replicating what the government did in Boracay would be a disaster. He urged government to seriously study the repercussions of the proposed reclamation project.
“We love with intensity right? Cleaning up Manila Bay shouldn’t be done artificially and in haste. True love is just and it waits,” Tañada said.