3 senators tell DENR: Stop Manila Bay ‘white beach’ project now
MANILA, Philippines—Several senators on Monday (Sept. 7) called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately stop its “white beach” project in Manila Bay after the Department of Health warned that the material being used for it, dolomite, is hazardous to health.
“If DENR is really concerned about the environment and the people, it is but proper for them to immediately stop the dumping of dolomite,” Sen. Nancy Binay said in a statement.
Binay said environment officials should have focused first in improving the quality of water in Manila Bay before spending hundreds of millions of pesos in taxpayer money for the beautification project which seeks to turn the bay’s rocky shores into a sandy beach.
The senator also chided the DENR for its failure to conduct public consultation and thorough studies on the health and environmental impacts of using dolomite as alternative to natural white sand.
“Using dolomite as a substitute for white sand only means that the Manila Bay rehabilitation did not go through the appropriate process and studies,” Binay said.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros also played down Malacanang’s claim that dumping dolomite along the 500-meter portion of Manila Bay’s shore would help people mentally cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we are really serious in protecting the Filipinos’ mental health, we should ensure that people can safely return to work, bring food to their tables everyday and make the (country) free from COVID-19,” Hontiveros said.
“During the Suicide Awareness Month, we have to acknowledge the heavy toll this crisis is taking on Filipinos. The spike of suicides is of great concern,” she said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, also from the Senate minority bloc, said the government could have provided 189,000 sacks of rice or 26,000 laptops for teachers and students using funds that the DENR instead spent on the project.
“It’s unacceptable that while our countrymen are going hungry and students could not buy gadgets for their online classes, (the government) is squandering public funds for a project that could harm the environment and public health,” he said.
“Our government must prioritize addressing the plight of our people who are already grappling with difficulties brought by the pandemic,” Pangilinan said.
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