Sen. Cynthia Villar has asked the Department of Health (DOH) to address the problem of open defecation in poor coastal communities by making sure that funding is available for needed programs.
During the Committee on Finance hearing on the P 104 billion proposed budget of DOH for 2018, Villar asked Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial to earmark enough budget to fund programs addressing open defecation and unsanitary living conditions in poor communities along Manila Bay, Pasig River and Laguna Lake.
“We have seen poor coastal areas that have no toilets. I hope you have enough budget so that we can provide toilets in these poor communities. It is your responsibility,” Villar said.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, noted that in Baseco Compound in Manila Bay, some 5,000 families have no toilets.
She asked for DOH’s commitment to continue the “Zero Open Defecation for Baseco Compound” project which the agency signed with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, City of Manila and Maynilad.
The project involves the construction of a three-chambered septic tank with individual toilet slabs for households of Baseco Compound, Barangay 649, Port Area, Manila.
Villar also reminded Ubial that DOH is among the 13 government agencies mandated by the Supreme Court to clean Manila Bay.
“Making sure that human wastes will not go to Manila Bay will help make this body of water clean enough for recreational activities,” Villar said.
On December 18, 2008, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in G.R.No. 171947-48 ordering government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make them fit for swimming, skin diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”
For her part, Committee on Finance Chair Loren Legarda said she will support the budgetary requirement for the zero defecation project.
Villar has adopted an area in Bgy. 649, Gasangan, Baseco Compound, where she has been planting mangrove trees and conducting clean-up activities on a monthly basis. Through Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), she partnered with private and government agencies to give free livelihood training programs for the residents.