The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today said the conduct of the mandatory weekly clean-up drives every Saturday may be suspended by the local government units (LGUs) along the Manila Bay watershed area if it falls on a regular or special non-working holiday.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the suspension of the Saturday clean-up drive during holidays would give local government personnel and volunteers time to rest and spend time with their families to enjoy the holiday.

"While we are all committed to continue the Manila Bay clean-up drive, we also have the best interests of our people on the ground at heart. Hence, when a regular or special holiday falls on a Saturday, LGUs may opt to suspend the Saturday clean-up activity," he said.

Año said LGUs can choose to conduct the clean-up on a different day within the same week or still decide to continue with the Saturday clean-up drive even if it is a holiday.

“We leave it up to the LGUs to decide whether to suspend it during a holiday or to push through with it, or to schedule it on another day,” he said.

“Such actions will, of course, be duly noted and will merit additional consideration in assessing LGU compliance to the Manila Bay clean-up drive which will serve as basis in recognizing LGUs for the Manila BAYani Awards and Incentives program,” he added.

The Manila BAYani Awards and Incentives (MBAI) program was established in 2020 to recognize and encourage top-performing local governments to comply with relevant environmental laws that support the bay's rehabilitation and use their creativity to develop innovative environmental management strategies.

Earlier, the DILG, through DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) 2019-09, tasked the 178 cities and municipalities and 5,714 barangays along the Manila Bay watershed area to organize clean-up drives in areas such as, but not limited to, coastal areas and inland water systems in their respective localities weekly every Saturday.

In 2008, the Supreme Court mandated that the DILG, DENR, and 11 other national government agencies (NGAs) to rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay to be used for swimming, skin diving, and other types of contact recreation.

The high court directed the DILG to supervise LGUs in Regions III, IV-A, and the NCR near the Manila Bay watershed to carry out restoration programs and activities, as well as information and education campaigns to inform and engage the public.

First-quarter clean-up activities

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clean-up activities were put on hold as gatherings were discouraged to avoid transmission and also to allow LGUs to focus on pandemic mitigation and response measures.

“While LGUs are committed to do their share in the clean-up drive, we also had to look after our people's health and welfare so there was a time that the clean-ups were suspended,” he said.

According to Malaya, from January 1, 2022, to March 26, 2022, 34,584 clean-up drives were conducted by the concerned barangays along the Manila Bay watershed area.

On the other hand, from January 1, 2022, to March 19, 2022, he said the concerned cities and municipalities conducted 831 clean-up drives.

Because of the weekly clean-up drives, he said 10,637,508.87 kg of waste was collected in the first quarter of 2022.

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