MANILA -- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu targets mitigating flow of waste into Manila Bay as soon as possible to prevent further pollution of the historic bay.

Cimatu on Monday said they have to prioritize providing -- along 'esteros' and waterways draining into Manila Bay -- trash cans where people can throw their waste.

"We can stop waste at source," he told DENR personnel during Monday’s flag-raising ceremony updating them on the agency's plans for cleaning up and rehabilitating Manila Bay.

Providing trash cans for public use can help reduce littering so there'll be lesser volume of waste entering Manila Bay, he said.

"If people don't see trash cans, they'll throw their waste into 'esteros' and waterways instead," he added.

Cimatu said waste must be collected and disposed accordingly.

DENR and its partner agencies are presently taking various measures to clean up Manila Bay to make it fit for swimming and other contact recreational activities again.

Such goal is aligned with Supreme Court's 2008 order for 13 agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay. These agencies include the environment, agriculture, public works, interior, education, health and budget departments, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, Local Water Utilities Administration, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and Philippine Ports Authority.

"There are about 47 'esteros' in Metro Manila -- these will all be cleaned," Cimatu reiterated.

It's necessary to do so since leaving one 'estero' dirty will still cause pollution in Manila Bay, he said.

Cimatu cautioned against swimming in Manila Bay's waters near Baywalk promenade.

"Those waters aren't yet swimmable," he said.

Three outfalls along Baywalk are still discharging dirty effluent into Manila Bay -- making it dangerous to swim there at present, he warned.

He reassured work will push through either this or next week to address the discharges so only properly treated effluent will flow into Manila Bay.

Cimatu urged DENR personnel nationwide to be models of cleanliness.

"We should set the example in sustaining the environment," he said.

He encouraged DENR personnel to teach respective families about need to refrain from littering. Littering pollutes the environment, he noted. (PNA)