DENR launches massive cleanup of Manila Bay in C. Luzon

More than 5,000 individuals from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here and other government agencies, local government units (LGU), business sectors, academe and civil society organizations rallied yesterday to conduct massive cleanup of Manila Bay in the three provinces in Central Luzon to avert further degradation of the historic bay and bring back its water level fit for swimming.

Current fecal coliform level in Manila Bay is at 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters. The acceptable level for Class SB water, which is deemed safe, is 100 MPN/ 100 ml.

According to Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of DENR regional office, the cleanup was conducted simultaneously in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan in Region 3, Metro Manila in National Capital Region (NCR) and Cavite in Region IV-A on January 27, 2019 as ordered by environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as the start or “D-day” for the launching of massive cleanup and rehabilitation of the Bay.

“Bringing back Manila Bay to its original state is a gargantuan task for the DENR, which requires a lot of commitment, cooperation and support from other government agencies, local government units (LGU), business establishments, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders,” he stressed.

He said the launching of Manila Bay clean up in Central Luzon was conducted at the Obando river in Barangay Tawiran in Obando, Bulacan; Guagua river in Barangay Sto. Filomina in Guagua, Pampanga and in the more than 700 meters stretch of Mariveles coastline in Barangay Lucanin in Bataan.

“Actual cleanup was conducted in these areas while the total volume of waste collected was more than 5,000 kilograms.  Three thousand mangrove species were also planted in these sites to protect our coastal areas,” he explained.

Moreno emphasized that the phase one of the rehabilitation program is the cleanup and water quality improvement, which involve the actual cleanup of designated esteros and waterways to reduce fecal coliform level and toxic discharges from establishments, and the implementation of solid waste management.

The DENR will also mobilize other government agencies including those mandamus agencies tasked to clean the bay like Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Education, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Local Water Utilities (LWU) and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to carry out the rehabilitation of the bay.

Statistics from the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) of DENR in Central Luzon showed that the number of informal settler families (ISF) living along the coastal areas and rivers in Bulacan are 23, 051 while there are also 9,363 ISF in Pampanga and 10,166 in Bataan or a total of 42,580 families.

“Notices of violation (NOV) will also be issued to non-compliant establishments or if appropriate cease and desist orders (CDOs) will be issued, Moreno said.


June 4 to 10 of every year is Philippine Eagle Week


Sighting for the birds of prey

For decade wildlife experts and biologists of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Luzon have been monitoring the vast and diverse mountain ranges of Sierra Madre in the portion of Nueva Ecija and Aurora to confirm the presence of Philippine Eagle. Wildlife officers have been tracking down this birds of prey and were unfortunate to confirm its existence in the area.

In 2000, local communities have observed this raptor flying in the clear sky, probably hunting for its food. But they are unsure of its true identity. However, this sighting further gave hope to conservationists to continue its quest in probing the existence of Philippine eagle in the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre.

According to literature, Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is the world's largest eagle. Sadly, it is also one of the endangered species in the country. Standing at three feet tall and with a wingspan of seven feet, it is no doubt that the Philippine eagle is truly king among the great birds of prey.

The Philippine eagle can live to between 30 and 60 years of age. It feeds mainly on flying lemurs, palm civets and monkeys, hence the alternative common name of 'monkey-eating eagle'. Other prey items include rats, snakes, flying squirrels, birds and bats.

This species is endemic to the Philippines and found on parts of the larger islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao

A rescued raptor

Hope never fails. Sometime on June 2016, an upland farmer found a juvenile eagle trapped in a snare or “silo” that was used in catching monkey inside the Aurora Memorial National Park (AMNP). The wildlife sustained no serious injuries in the ordeal.

The raptor was immediately turned-over to the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) based in Dingalan and was transferred to the custody of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) where it was cared for until its release into the wild. It was estimated that the eagle is just three years old.

The bird’s existence finally confirmed the presence of this critically endangered species in the Sierra Madre mountain range, a truly pride of Central Luzon.

Life in captivity

Agawid was placed in custody at the DENR Wildlife Rescue Center in Quezon City where the young eagle undergoes treatment and care. Agawid was placed in an eagle dome cage to prevent any human interaction. It was 17 months in captivity.

On May 2017, Agawid was transferred to a hack cage and brought back to a forest area in the national park of Aurora. The eagle undergoes a six month hacking process to ensure his survival and adaptive capacity in the wild.

Return to the wild

After more than a year of captivity, the young female Philippine eagle was released into the wild on October 4, 2017 in the forests area of AMNP. The released was historic and symbolic as it coincides with the confirmation of Secretary Roy. A Cimatu.

The spectacular eagle weighs approximately 5.31 kilograms just before its release. The eagle was named “Agawid,” an Ilocano word meaning “go home”. The eagle was able to return successfully to its natural habitat. It has been fitted with harnessed with radio transmitter to help DENR authorities monitor the eagle’s activities.

On April 2018, DENR Aurora and BMB conducted a re-trapping and monitoring of the young Agawid to check its health condition.

Today, Agawid is learning to hunt and survive in the wild. There are times that the young eagle return back to the community to hunt pets and other domesticated animal as an easy prey.

Portion of AMNP along the highway in Barangay Villa Maria in Maria Aurora town has been a favorite spot for many tourists as they enjoy a closer look of Agawid alights in the tree tops of tall dipterocarp trees in search for prey.

Agawid is being closely monitored to protect against illegal hunters and poachers. The eagle is a true symbol of the Filipino and crown jewel of Philippine biodiversity.

Let us protect Agawid and its habitat.

It is our country’s national bird, a beacon of hope and barometer of our ecosystem.

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