Duterte warns hotels near Manila Bay: Install proper water treatment systems or face closure

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Children and adults alike beat the summer heat through swimming at this portion of Manila Bay — something that the state disaster bureau is not too happy about owing to the threats to health that swimming in polluted waters poses.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to close down hotels near Manila Bay without proper water treatment systems following his order to rehabilitate the polluted body of water.

"Kaya sabi ko kay [I told] Roy Cimatu at General (Eduardo) Año, you start cleaning the Manila Bay. And they will start to clean it." Duterte said in a speech before barangay officials in Pasay City Thursday.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), headed by Cimatu, earlier said ₱47-billion pesos will be alloted for the bay's clean-up.

The President then warned hotels near the bay to shape up with their waste disposal measures.

"Lagyan ninyo ng water treatment (system) 'yang hotel ninyo, kung hindi sarahan ko 'yan. Wag mo akong hamunin," he said. "Kung wala tayong turista, eh di wala. Di naman tayo mamamatay."

[Translation: Place water treatment systems in your hotels or else I will shut you down. Do not dare me. If we do not have tourists, it's fine. We won't die.]

The 2,000-square kilometer Manila Bay has been found to have extreme levels of coliform -- bacteria which indicate disease-causing organisms are present -- at 333 million most probable numbers per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml), according to the DENR.

Cimatu earlier said the long-term goal is to reduce the coliform level to 100 MPN/100ml, or low enough for the bay to be safe for swimming.

The Manila Bay is one of the many locations needing rehabilitation in the Philippines. In April 2018, Duterte ordered the six-month clean-up of Boracay Island after calling it a "cesspool."

A Supreme Court ruling in 2008 ordered the DENR to lead government agencies including itself for the bay's clean-up. Among the agencies included are the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM),Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

These agencies are required to submit quarterly reports on the clean-up.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said involved agencies will have a preliminary meeting on the project with the local government units on January 15.