THE MANILA BAY
The Manila Bay Area (MBA) has a total area of 1,994 square kilometers with a coastline of 190 kilometers comprising three regions, namely the NCR, Regions III and IVA. The Bay waters is found between 120° 28′ E and 121° 15′ E and 14° 16′ N and 15° N. The entire MBA is found between 120° 14′ and 121° 24′ E and 13° 58′ N and 16° 8′ N.
MBA is mostly bounded by various mountain ranges, including the Sierra Madre (east), Caraballo (north), Zambales (northwest) and Bataan (west). The West Philippine Sea and the province of Batangas frontiers the MBA in southwest and south, respectively.
The entire watershed area is drained by 16 major river systems, namely the Angat River, Bocaue River, Guagua River, Marilao River, Meycauayan River, Obando River, Pampanga River, Sta. Maria River and Talisay River (Region III); Canas River, Imus River, Rio Grande River and Ylang-Ylang River (Region IVA) and Meycauayan-Valenzuela River, Navotas-Malabon-Tullahan-Tinejeros River, Paranaque River and Pasig River (NCR).
ISSUES AND CONCERNS
The Manila Bay Area has continuously boosted growing economies – producing more than half of the country’s GDP. This growth has translated into an upgrade in transportation facilities, particularly ports, shipping, airports, roads and railways. Current statistics reveal such trend will continue with the establishment of regional growth centers outside the National Capital Region (NCR). Amidst such developments, these economies have also induced increasing socioeconomic and environmental constraints. To date, the MBA is considered as one of the most-densely populated metropolitan regions in Asia, with relatively higher risks of urban decay. Without any interventions, the costs required to address population demands and its environmental challenges will eventually outweigh the benefits of growing economies.
Addressing Population Demands
Continuous increase in population within the MBA has put immense pressure in various production sectors, including fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture. There is also a sharp increase in built-up areas driven by the need for human settlements – as clearly presented in adjacent provinces of Regions III (Central Luzon) and IVA (CALABARZON). All these activities require massive land conversion, which puts areas of conservation and protection at greater risks.
Meeting Environmental Challenges
The trends and emerging issues on demography lead to potential impacts in the health of the Manila Bay Ecosystem. Untreated effluent discharges from domestic, commercial and industrial sources remain to be the main factor for the Bay’s deteriorating water quality. This is further aggravated by the increasing pollution loading from vessels and improperly disposed solid wastes. All these environmental challenges are met through an array of pollution abatement measures employed by the government and private sectors. These include regular water and soil quality monitoring activities and water supply and sanitation projects. These are also complemented by several special studies conducted for Manila Bay and its abutting river systems.
EXISTING MANAGEMENT PLANS AND INTERVENTIONS
Following the passage of the Supreme Court’s En Banc Decision, the Manila Bay has been progressively marked with a reel of management plans and interventions – with the ultimate goal of bringing back its water quality safe for contact recreation. It is through the ‘Writ of Continuing Mandamus’ that the defendant-agencies, as well as the other stakeholders have concretized measurable and time-bound strategies for the comprehensive rehabilitation program of Manila Bay.
The 2011-2015 OPMBCS and its 2013-2017 Comprehensive Implementation Plan (CIP)
The 2nd Edition of the OPMBCS (2011-2015) has provided a guiding framework for the NGAs, LGUs, academe, private sector and the communities on how to approach the gargantuan tasks of rehabilitating the Bay ecosystem. It entails the integration of practical lessons learned in the course of the implementation of the Manila Bay Environmental Management Project (MBEMP).
The Operational Plan has addressed priority issues/areas of concern on water pollution, habitats and resources, and partnership and governance. Each of these issues have a set of objectives and action plans with measurable targets, timeframe, and budgetary requirements. It also contains implementing arrangements – responsible agency/sector/partner, enabling policies and laws, and financing strategy.
This Plan, as intended for adoption and implementation by national and local levels of government, communities, NGOs, the private sector, scientific and research institutions, and other stakeholders in the Manila Bay Area, was approved for adoption by the Manila Bay Project Coordinating Committee (MBPCC) on February 8, 2006.
Years after its implementation, the SC-MBAC has mandated the DENR to formulate an Implementation Plan enlisting all deliverables per focus area with defined timelines. The CIP, to be implemented from 2013-2017, will serve as one of SC-MBAC’s monitoring and evaluation tool to assess the defendant-agencies’ compliance.
Institutionalizing Efforts for Manila Bay
First introduced as the Manila Bay Environmental Management Project (MBEMP) way back 2000, the urgency has catapulted DENR to establish an organization which will focus on the vast coordination works needed for compliance – the Manila Bay Coordinating Office. Through DENR AO 2011-01 (Strengthening the Manila Bay Coordinating Office), the MBCO was transferred from the River Basin Control Office (RBCO) to the Office of the Secretary – with the primary objective of facilitating an efficient and effective implementation of the OPMBCS.
It likewise serve as the liaison office between and amongst the defendant-agencies and the SC-MBAC.