MANILA – Malacañang on Monday reminded law enforcement authorities to strictly enforce physical distancing rules on visitors to the “white sand beach” in Manila Bay.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this reminder after photos and videos showing people standing close to each other along Roxas Boulevard circulated on social media.

The Manila Bay’s artificial white sand beach was temporarily opened to the public on Saturday and Sunday.

“Kaya nga po nananawagan din po kami sa kapulisan na sana po ay ipatupad natin ang social distancing (That’s why we are also calling on our police force to implement social distancing),” he said in a virtual presser.

Last Sunday, Philippine National Police (PNP) Joint Task Force Covid Shield Commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said Ermita police station commander Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan was relieved from his post over his failure to enforce physical distancing rules on visitors to the white sand beach.

He said Caramoan could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there were prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area.

Take turns

Roque also appealed to the public to observe physical distancing as a safety precaution against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“Ang panawagan lang namin sa taumbayan, the surest way po para kayo ay magkaroon ng Covid, huwag kayong mag-social distancing (Our appeal to the public, the surest way to contract Covid is to not observe social distancing),” he said.

Roque, meanwhile, assured visitors that they will eventually have their chance to see the Manila Bay makeover as long as they took turns.

Since the white sand beach is around 7,000 square meters, he said it can accommodate 50 people at one time.

He said each group visitors should have at least five minutes to see the white sand beach and take photos.

“Kung pupuwede po five minutes per group lang diyan, sapat na po iyan para singhutin ang hangin at saka mag-picture-picture, mag-selfie-selfie (if possible, each group can spend five minutes there, that’s enough time to get air and take pictures, selfies),” he said.

‘Right decision’

According to Roque, the crowd of visitors which flocked to the segment of Manila Bay’s shoreline showed that the decision of the government to cover it with artificial sand was a “good decision”.

“Talagang iyan naman po ay nagpapatunay na tama ang naging desisyon ng (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) at ng siyudad ng Maynila na lalo pang pagandahin ang Manila Bay (That really proves that the decision of the DENR and the City of Manila to beautify Manila Bay is a good decision),” he said.

Lawmakers and environmental groups earlier criticized the Manila Bay’s beach nourishment using crushed dolomite for allegedly violating several laws.

Malacañang said the project will prevent soil erosion and flooding. (PNA)

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