The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) urged the public anew to stop throwing trash into waterways to help address the growing problem of marine pollution.

The appeal was made as the DENR led yet another successful cleanup of Manila Bay and its tributaries on Saturday during the local observance of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day 2019.

Thousands turned up in various cleanup sites around the Manila Bay region for this year’s ICC event dubbed as “Battle for Trash-Free Manila Bay.”

According to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, all cleanup efforts will be in vain if the public continue with their habit of indiscriminate dumping.

“Ang nais po namin ipabatid sa inyo, itong cleanup na ginagawa natin taun-taon ay maganda po ito, pero ang kailangan natin isaisip at isaulo ay dapat matigil ang paglalagay ng basura sa ating mga katubigan,” Cimatu said in his message conveyed by DENR Undersecretary and Manila Bay Task Force Ground Commander Juan Miguel Cuna.

“Maaari po tayong gumawa ng cleanup taun-taon pero kung tuloy-tuloy ang pag-load natin ng pollution sa ating mga katubigan, sayang ang ang hirap natin,” Cimatu pointed out.

Cimatu said that behavioral change among Filipinos is needed to clean up Manila Bay and all other water bodies in the country.

The environment chief nevertheless thanked all the volunteers and encouraged them to do daily cleanup activities and practice recycling and waste segregation to combat marine pollution.

For ICC Day 2019, top officials of the DENR were assigned to lead cleanup efforts in different water bodies in Metro Manila as part of the rehabilitation programs “Battle for Manila Bay” and “Battle for Rivers and Esteros.”

Cuna led the cleanup in Baseco in Tondo, Manila where some 6,000 volunteers were recorded.

Aside from the Manila Bay coastline, cleanup activities were also held in esteros and waterways that drain into the pollution-challenged bay.

The DENR noted that following the natural flow of water, pollution from the upstream—including the esteros—will only quickly replace the solid waste removed from the coastal areas.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda was in Navotas Centennial Park where close to 3,000 volunteers showed up, while Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia was in Tumana, Marikina City, Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. in Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, and Environmental Management Bureau Director MetodioTurbella in Estero de Tripa de Galina in Parañaque City.

Together with Rotary International District 3780 and around 500 volunteers, Undersecretaries Jonas Leones and AnalizaRebuelta-Teh installed a trash trap made from plastic bottles and fishnet along Tullahan River in Novaliches.

Last February, President Rodrigo RoaDuterte issued Administrative Order No. 16 designating Cimatu as chair of the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force, with the secretaries of the Department of Tourism and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as vice chairpersons.

During the ICC event, the DENR was joined by volunteers from local government units, private organizations, industries, the academe and other stakeholders in cleaning up Manila Bay and its tributaries.

The kind and number of garbage collected from each site is recorded and weighed for submission to Ocean Conservatory, a Washington-based environmental group that spearheaded the first coastal cleanup in 1986. The group will validate the report and consolidate it with those from other participating countries.

Through the annual ICC, Ocean Conservatory hopes to find solutions to threats in oceans and waterways around the world. ###