In line with the current thrust of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to fully implement the environmental laws of the country, I am issuing notices of violation (NOVs) to Manila Water Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad, and Manila Water for their failure to put up sufficient wastewater treatment facilities.
The failure of the three firms to comply with the provisions of Republic Act 9275, otherwise known as The Clean Water Act, has contributed to the continuing degradation of the water quality of the Pasig River and Manila Bay.
Under the Clean Water Act of 2004, MWSS was mandated to provide water supply and sewerage facilities within five years since the effectivity of the law. Likewise, based on their concession agreements, both Maynilad and Manila Water were required to put up their respective wastewater treatment facilities. However, all three firms have reneged on this obligation and this has resulted to the continued decline of the water quality in Pasig River and Manila Bay.
The protection of the water bodies, particularly of Manila Bay, has been promulgated by the Supreme Court in its en banc decision in December 2008, when it imposed a continuing mandamus on the DENR, as the lead government agency, to protect and restore the Bay. With the SC ruling, MWSS, Manila Water, and Maynilad have no excuse to foot drag on their commitment to provide the much-needed sewerage and wastewater treatment facilities in their respective areas of coverage. This ruling is a big boost and a great support in our efforts to clean up the country’s water bodies, especially Manila Bay.
The failure to set up waste water treatment facilities is one major cause of the dreadful condition of our water bodies. At present, our major waterways serve as a septic tank for the metropolis, as untreated household and industrial effluent go directly to our storm drains and into our creeks and rivers. Records show that only eight percent of households are adequately connected to a proper sewerage system. MWSS, Maynilad, and Manila Water have a moral obligation to provide clean water for Metro Manila through the establishment of wastewater treatment facilities.
As chairman of the Pollution and Adjudication Board (PAB), I will see to it that violators of Republic Act 9275 will not go unpunished. In Section 28 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of The Clean Water Act of 2004, it states: “any person who commits any of the prohibited acts provided in the immediately preceding section or violates any of the provision of this Act or its implementing rules and regulations, shall be fined by the Secretary, upon the recommendation of the PAB in the amount of not less than Ten thousand pesos (P 10,000) nor more than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000) for every day of violation.” The law is clear and so are the conditions in the concession agreement of Maynilad and Manila Water. Harsh as it may be, I have no recourse but to implement the full letter of the law. I hope that the eyes and ears of MWSS, Maynilad, and Manila Water are suddenly opened to the urgency of this matter. We cannot allow any more delays in the installation of these vital wastewater and sewerage treatment facilities.
The massacre of Manila Bay and Pasig River will continue for generations to come unless true political will is exerted and the biggest culprits of this environmental abuse are prosecuted to the end.