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First in PH media: UNTV underwater drone explores Manila Bay’s murky seabed

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 7 February 2019 02:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines — On the surface, the sight of Manila Bay may be viewed as clean and fresh as if it has returned to its original, unspoiled state.

But what seems to be a beautiful sight on the surface of the bay is not what it looks like below.

For the first time in the history of Philippine media, UNTV News and Rescue team explored what lies beneath the inviting waters of Manila Bay.

Using UNTV’s underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) drone, the team first took a look at the section of the bay in Padre Faura.

Aside from the low tide, the underwater drone was not able to swim farther, but it was able to capture a long stretch of marshy, muddy ground in the area.

Next stop was in Remedios area.  

The underwater drone was able to reach 10-feet below the water surface but not a single sign of life was seen. Instead, the drone captured an assortment of trash, a lot of them, that had taken the place of corals on the seafloor.

On the surface, the water seemed clear but turned yellowish to greenish to deep black as the drone swam deeper.

As a proof of Manila Bay’s “dark secrets” underneath, the underwater ROV got tangled with some plastic trash when it emerged from the water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admitted that Manila Bay’s seabed has grown ‘mountains’ of garbage that were washed to this portion of the bay in the past 40 to 50 years.

The DENR has decided to dredge Manila Bay 300 meters from the shoreline and up to three meters below to clean out the garbage from the seabed. The operations will be carried out with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

“Hahabulin po namin ang tamang lalim at ang goal namin (ay) una, ma-expose ang beach materials o ang sand. Pangalawa, sa pamamagitan din ng pagtanggal na iyan, hopefully, it will contribute sa improvement ng water quality,” explained DPWH, Bureau of Equipment director Toribio Noel Ilaw.

The DENR, meanwhile, reported a decline in fecal coliform level in the waters of Manila Bay.

Based on the test conducted on water samples in the Padre Faura area, from 330 million most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters before the rehabilitation efforts began, the coliform content reduced to 54 million MPN/100ml and even lower to 7.5 million MPN/100ml.

In Remedios area, fecal coliform level reduced from 160 million to 35 million MPN/100ml while in Manila Yatch Club area, it reduced from 1.3 billion to 52 million MPN/100ml at present.

“(Paano) bumaba? The Manila Zoo was the big culprit and when they closed it, they did not dump their waste. (So) there is now 52 million from a high of 1.3 billion,” noted Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Cimatu added that the crackdown on establishments polluting Manila Bay by ordering ‘cease and desist’ and issuance of notice of violations prompted a stop in waste discharges and contributed to the lowering of coliform level in the bay.

Despite these improvements, environment and health officials still do not recommend recreational swimming as health hazards of contaminated water remain high anywhere in Manila Bay. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

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‘No swimming zone’ strictly enforced in Manila Bay

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 February 2019 12:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities have installed orange barriers at the baywalk area along Roxas Boulevard to bar people from swimming in Manila Bay.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have assigned a ‘no swimming zone’ as recreational swimming remains harmful to humans due to the high coliform content in Manila Bay’s waters.

The orange barriers where placed three meters away from the concrete breakwater at the seaside as directed by the Manila Bay Inter-Agency Task Force during a site inspection on Wednesday (February 6).

Several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) take rounds in monitoring the area to make sure that no one would go beyond the barricade and attempt to swim in the bay.

Aside from health risks of contact with the contaminated waters, authorities decided to strictly ban recreational swimming in Manila Bay because of an incident involving an 11-year-old girl nearly who drowned in the bay on Tuesday (February 5).

Rhianne Janiel Soriano was swimming with her friends when she accidentally drank water from the bay which endangered her life.

MMDA personnel was able to rescue the girl and immediately rushed her to the nearest hospital.

Rhianne remains in critical condition due to the large volume of dark, dirty water deposits in her lungs.

“Marami. Kapag nakita ninyo po, ang itim nang nainom niya. Itim. Para siyang…hindi ko alam kung burak iyon o nainom niya lang iyon sa tubig. Madumi po siya,” described Rhianne’s mother Marivic Mabilas.

Rhianne remains inside the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) of Ospital ng Maynila for treatment. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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Girl who nearly drowned in Manila Bay remains in critical condition

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 February 2019 11:47 AM

11-year-old victim

MANILA, Philippines – An 11-year-old girl remains under observation in the intensive care unit (ICU) after nearly drowning in Manila Bay on Tuesday (February 5).

According to the girl’s mother, Marivic Mabilas, she didn’t know that her daughter went swimming in Manila Bay despite her disapproval.

She believes her daughter was persuaded by peers to swim.

The girl remains in critical condition in the pediatric ICU while doctors continue to remove excess fluid that penetrated her lungs.

Authorities reiterated that it is not yet allowed to swim in Manila Bay as the waters remain unsafe due to high coliform content which can lead to several diseases. – Marje Pelayo | UNTV News and Rescue

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MMDA denounces ‘oil spill’ in Manila Bay

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 5 February 2019 04:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines – There is no stopping tourists from crowding the seaside of Manila Bay.

Spectators even doubled on Tuesday (February 5) taking advantage of the non-working holiday.

This prompted the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to establish a first aid station with a scuba diving team on standby to respond in emergency situations.

But a report of an alleged oil spill interrupted the agency which prompted them to do some rounds in nearby areas of Manila Bay.

The agency checked a sewer line that is directly connected to the bay that produces a dark discharge.

The MMDA said that due to the low tide, perhaps the mud from the seabed surfaced and mixed with the water and caused discoloration.

The MMDA reminded the public to refrain from swimming in the bay.

The scuba diving team held an under water inspection to check on the seabed’s condition.

“Ang nasa three feet madilim. Pagdating ng seven feet, yellowish ang tubig. Pagdating ng 12 feet makikita (na) puro burak na halos,” explained MMDA Spokesperson Assistance Secretary Celine Pialago.

“So ang mga trash naman o mga solid waste wala namang nakikita. Pailan ilan lang dahil ang solid waste dinadala iyan dito sa baybay,” she added.

Pialago said clean up works are still manageable during low tide.

The official, however, said it would be different when high tide begins especially during rainy season.

“Ngayon low tide, mabilis nating matatanggal ang mga solid waste. Pero kapag umatake na ang habagat (at) tag-ulan, high tide (na). Lahat po ng basura, ang burak na natatanaw ninyo, aangat lahat ng dumi nyan (at) babalik dito sa may pampang,” Pialago noted.

The MMDA is now concentrating its cleanup drive on 11 estuaries suspected to be sources of major pollutants in Manila Bay.

The MMDA has started imposing the swimming ban in Manila Bay on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now working on the signage and fences to be erected around Manila Bay to strictly remind the public of the new policies. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

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