Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday vowed to finish rehabilitation efforts in Manila Bay, including the beach nourishment project, despite criticisms on the use of crushed dolomite boulders as artificial white sand.

“Now, more than ever, the DENR is determined to finish the project to give our people a nice, cozy, and clean place to relax, recreate and enjoy the world’s most beautiful sunsets. No amount of baseless and harsh criticisms will prevent us from performing the gargantuan and extremely difficult task of restoring our beloved Manila Bay,” DENR said in a statement.

DENR said constructive criticisms are always welcome most especially if these are accompanied by suggestions for improving public service in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

Moreover, they are also grateful and appreciative of those extending their understanding and support for the Manila Bay nourishment project, as they help the agency focus on the job that needs to be done.

The agency, however, called on those who deliberately mislead the public and criticize efforts made by the government to give Manila Bay it’s much-needed makeover from its full-of-garbage image.

“These blind critics have been propagating lies and baseless accusations against the DENR and government in general in all forums, including social media, to advance their selfish interests. It is only right and just for supporters of the project to ask critics this all-important question: ‘Where were you when people complained about how dirty Manila Bay has become?” it added.

DENR explained that the beach nourishment project is a significant phase of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program which dates back to the issuance of a writ of continuing mandamus by the Supreme Court.

The said mandamus issued in 2008 directs the DENR and all other government agencies to clean, rehabilitate and preserve the historic bay.

Several administrations have passed but only the Duterte administration paid attention and took on the initiative to rehabilitate Manila Bay to bring it back to its former glory.

In January 2019, right after the successful Boracay rehabilitation project which led to the closure of the entire island for almost a year, the DENR, along with other mandamus agencies that form part of the Manila Bay Task Force created by President Duterte, regular massive cleanups were conducted along the bay including its tributaries.

A sewage treatment plant (STP) that filters dirty water that flows back to the bay was installed in Roxas Boulevard while three more STPs poised to be set up within Metro Manila.

Commercial and residential establishments surrounding Manila Bay were also obliged to comply with the country’s clean water law and other pertinent rules and regulations and informal settlers living along the bay who greatly contribute to the water pollution in the area were slowly relocated.

According to the DENR, these may just be some of the accomplishments that they have done together with the Manila Bay Task Force, but they “have been purposely disregarded by detractors, who chose instead to ignore facts and spouted conspiracy theories to cast aspersions on a well-meaning project”.

The alleged health hazards posed by crushed dolomite boulders placed along the shore of Manila Bay, it said, have already been clarified even by the Department of Health.

The DENR also cited many other private beach areas in the country and outside that have been using dolomite for more than two decades now but that has not caused any problem.

The agency continuously assures the public “that the funds used for the project will not be put to waste as engineering interventions are being made to prevent the artificial white sand from being washed away,” adding that the project “likewise passed the required environmental impact assessment”.

More than its aesthetic side, the Manila Bay beach nourishment project is also a strategy to promote pro-environment behavior among Filipinos.

“It is our hope that the beautiful white sand would inspire people to be more mindful of their obligation to keep Manila Bay clean,” the statement said.

It added that the DENR will never get tired of explaining the benefits of a cleaner Manila Bay and that they are more than willing to respond to issues hurled against the project in the proper forum. (PNA)

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