DENR owns up to protocol breach in Manila dolomite beach weekend frenzy
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday owned up to its failure to implement social distancing and other protocols when it opened the Manila Bay dolomite beach to thousands of visitors in recent weeks.
DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda however claimed that the overcrowding was quickly addressed by authorities, amid the government rule to limit the capacity to just 50 percent.
“Rest assured that ‘yung sinasabi nilang nagkaroon ng violation sa social distancing, immediately na-address po ‘yan dahil in-implement po namin ‘yung five-minute rule,” Antiporda said during the Palace briefing.
(Rest assured that what they said we had a violation of social distancing, it was immediately addressed because we implemented the five-minute rule.)
The five-minute rule, according to Antiporda, allows not more than 400 people in the over one-hectare dolomite beach for just five minutes, after which they would be ushered out to be able to accommodate the next batch.
“Sad to say, mayroon po tayong ilang mga kapatid sa media na nakunan ng litrato ‘yun pong time na dumami ‘yung tao dahil umulan po at that time. So, again, hindi ho natin pwede sabihin na hindi po tayo nagkulang. Nagkulang nang kaunti, pero naagapan po,” he said.
(Sad to say, we have some media who captured a photo of people during the time when there was an influx. Again, we cannot say that we did not have any shortcomings. There was a slight shortcoming but it was addressed.)
Antiporda was also asked for his reaction to Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno’s challenge to government officials to file cases against environment officials for failing to control the volume of visitors in the artificial beach.
However, Antiporda was not aware of Moreno’s statement at the time of the briefing but shared that they received a letter from the mayor the day before.
“The document that we received last night is asking us on our plans and what are the strategies that we’re using in trying to control the crowd,” the DENR official said.
“So, very supportive pa ho ‘yung letter niya (his letter was even very supportive) and the letter started from the words na (of) ‘we are in full support of the project of the DENR.’ So, I don’t know kung saan po galing ‘yang statement na ‘yan (where that statement came from),” he added.
Starting Tuesday, the DENR has prohibited children aged 11 years old and below from entering the dolomite beach in accordance with the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases. The department is also mulling to close the area to visitors during weekends.
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