Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has expressed his gratitude to various sectors for their overwhelming support for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Manila Bay beach nourishment project.

“We are truly grateful to our cabinet colleagues, other government officials, civic groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) for publicly expressing their support for the project and for echoing the sentiment of majority of Filipinos,” Cimatu said.

“This outpouring of support only inspires us to continue and even intensify our efforts to rehabilitate our beloved Manila Bay,” he added.

The DENR chief made special mention of officials who joined him during the Sept. 19 inspection of the project, which was the highlight of local celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day.

These officials include Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Danilo Lim, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan and Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, Philippine Coast Guard Rear Admiral Allen Toribio, and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group Director Police Brig. Gen. Omega Jireh Fidel.

Also present were representatives from other mandamus agencies, namely, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Education, Local Waters Utilities Administration, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and the Philippine Ports Authority.

The beach nourishment project is an important component of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program, which dates back in 2008 when the Supreme Court issued a writ of continuing mandamus directing the DENR and other agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve the bay.

Cimatu said the support from various government agencies, including those not covered by the mandamus, was essential not only to the Manila Bay rehabilitation, but to all other DENR programs whose success hinged on the “whole-of-government approach.”

Other government officials who have thrown their weight behind the beach nourishment project were Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, Commission on Higher Education Chair Prospero De Vera III, Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Jaime Medina and Chief of Staff Atty. Armie Corpuz representing Sen. Cynthia Villar.
National Economic and Development Authority Assistant Secretary Roderick Planta, Department of Justice Assistant Secretary Sergio Yap II, Department of Tourism NCR Director Woodrow Maquiling Jr., PNP Manila Police District Director Police Brigadier General Rolando Miranda, Pasay City Mayor’s Chief of Staff Peter Eric Pardo, Manila Yacht Club Commodore Robert Joseph.

Local government officials from the cities of Malabon, Pasay and Manila, including 36 Manila Councilors, led by Don Juan “DJ” Bagatsing and Salvador “Philip” Lacuna, have also expressed their full support for the project.

Among the agencies, civic groups and NGOs that sent their representatives during the Sept. 19 event were the Department of Tourism, the Department of Justice, the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Presidential Communications Operations Center, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Public Services-Manila, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Manila Water Company, Inc., Rotary Club of Manila, Lions Clubs International District 301-A2, Philippine Republic Defenders, Eagles Club, and Manila Yacht Club. Also in attendance were members of traditional and new media, including vloggers.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had earlier praised Cimatu for his determination to clean up Manila Bay, saying “people are now enjoying the benefits of a determined action of a cabinet member.” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also took extra effort to defend and clearly explain to the public the project.

Words of praise and appreciation continue to pour in for Cimatu and the project, the latest of which came from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who said it was “pure genius to work on the white sand beach on Manila Bay in just half a year.”

“Make no mistake, the situation in Manila Bay has gone from bad to good as a direct result of President Duterte’s support, my fellow cabinet members and other government officials,” Cimatu said.

“We will remain steadfast in our commitment to restore Manila Bay and we will never get tired of explaining to the public the benefits, legality and environmental soundness of the beach nourishment project,” he added.

Cimatu likewise thanked officials and employees of the DENR and other mandamus agencies for their “dedication and hard work to fully carry out the President’s marching order to rehabilitate Manila Bay in compliance with the Supreme Court’s continuing mandamus.” #