SC Asked to Put Manila Bay Clean Up Compliance Reports Online for Easy Public Access

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network, has asked the Supreme Court to make available online all compliance reports submitted by government agencies tasked to clean up Manila Bay.

In a letter sent to Chief Justice Renato Corona and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, the group sought public access to the various reports citing the constitutional right of the people to information on matters of public concern (Article 3, Section 7) and the state policy of full public disclosure (Article 2, Section 28).

“We request you to please cause the publication of these reports on the ‘Manila Bay Clean Up Update’ section of the Supreme Court website and invite the public to send their comments online or via post,” wrote Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We suggest that a facility for online comments be made available,” he added.

“This will make it easy for the people to gain access to pertinent information and hopefully invigorate citizens’ participation in the gargantuan task of cleaning up the iconic water body,” he explained.

“As a group tracking chemical and waste issues and campaigning for just and sustainable solutions, we and presumably many other likeminded groups would like to know how government institutions are abiding by their assignments,” he stated.

Acting on the recommendations by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee, the Supreme Court on February 15, 2011 adopted a resolution directing certain government agencies to perform specific responsibilities such as the submission of required reports on or before June 30 last year.

The Metro Manila Development Authority was to submit a report regarding the location of open and controlled dumps in Metro Manila and its plan for the closure of these open and controlled dumps to be accomplished not later than December 31, 2012.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was to submit a report about the location of all open and controlled dumps in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

The DENR was also to submit a report on whether or not the 13 landfills situated at the National Capital Region, Region III (Central Luzon) and Region IV-A (Calabarzon) strictly comply with Sections 41 and 42 of RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, on the establishment and operation of sanitary landfills.

The DENR and the Department of Health were also to develop a toxic and hazardous waste management system by June 30, 2011, which will implement segregation of hospital/toxic/hazardous wastes and prevent mixing with municipal solid waste.

It will be recalled that the Supreme Court on December 18, 2008 issued a writ of continuing mandamus directing 13 government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”