Dubbed as the “Battle for Manila Bay,” the cleanup drive was initiated by various government agencies in the Philippines to rehabilitate the harbor which has suffered massive pollution for decades.
While there have been cleanup efforts by other agencies months prior to this, the rehabilitation led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and their 5,000 volunteers officially started on Sunday.
According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), a total of 45.59 tons of garbage were collected in the first day of the cleanup.
Cease and desist orders were also handed out to at least 4 major establishments around the site for violating environmental laws, Rappler reports.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government noted that they have tasked some 5,700 barangays to conduct similar activities on a weekly basis, stressing that the cleanup will not be a one-off event.
The rehabilitation effort, which is estimated to cost the government 46 billion Philippine pesos ($877 million), will be conducted in three phases, covering 8 provinces and 178 local government units in the 3 regions of Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.
The massive drive reinforces a Supreme Court continuing mandamus, which ordered government agencies and local governments to clean up the polluted bay.
Despite warnings against swimming in the area as its water toxicity level is still high, several individuals have been spotted having a dip in Manila Bay’s waters.
Cleanup activities were also conducted simultaneously in the Philippine provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan.