Gov’t to halt Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project if proven harmful, says Año
MANILA, Philippines — Government will put a stop to the artificial rehabilitation of Manila Bay if the Department of Health (DOH) could prove that dolomite dust is harmful to a person’s health, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday.
In an interview over CNN, Año said he subscribes to the presentation of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu during the meeting of the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is contrary to the initial pronouncements of the DOH that the dolomite dust used for white-sand makeover in the bay has potential health hazards.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) led by Año is collaborating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the Manila Bay rehabilitation project.
“I don’t think [the dolomites are harmful] based on the presentation of Secretary Cimatu. Of course, there will be more discussions on this but based on what we’ve learned na talagang hindi na siya harmful but I leave it to the experts and we’ll have more discussions on this,” Año said.
“We would like to get the side of DOH, kung ma-po-prove nila na harmful ito at kung talagang maging harmful pa talaga yan, we can put a stop. But for now, I am inclined to support the DENR (Department of the Environment and Natural Resources) under Secretary Cimatu,” he added.
(We would like to get the side of DOH if they can prove that this is harmful and if it is really harmful, we can put a stop. But for now, I am inclined to support the DENR under chief Cimatu.)
In an online press briefing on Monday, DOH said the dolomite dust, which came from crushed rocks from Cebu province and dumped in Manila Bay shore, can cause respiratory illness when inhaled.
Quoting Cimatu, Año explained that the artificial sand is not dangerous as it is already a finished product. The dolomites are only harmful during the “crushing process,” he added.
“The dolomites are harmful during the crushing — doon sa source na kinu-crush yung boulders,” Año added. (The harmful dolomites are those dolomites during the crushing process.)
“We had a discussion last night sa IATF (Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) tungkol diyan and Secretary Cimatu presented his side of the DENR. He emphasized that they are actually finished products,” he said.
(We had a discussion last night with IATF about this issue and Cimatu presented his side of the DENR. He emphasized that the sand is finished products.)
The DENR filled 3,500 wet metric tonnes of dolomite on Manila Bay as part of its January 2019 Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program which was launched to remove pollution and urban light in the bay.
In a previous interview, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said pouring white sand on the bay’s shoreline is phase one of the project.
Antiporda said authorities are expected to visit and inspect the enhancement of the Manila Bay’s shoreline on Sept. 19.