Environmental group launches online petition vs Manila Bay white sand project

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2020   •   501

MANILA, Philippines — Marine conservation group, Oceana Philippines, has launched an online petition to stop the “white sand” project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Manila Bay.

Oceana Philippines, with other non-government organizations, said they are fighting for the protection and conservation of the country’s vastly threatened fisheries, biodiversity, and natural resources.

The petition cited five laws which the project allegedly violated:

  • Environmental Impact System Laws and Regulations
  • The Fisheries Code (RA 8550) as amended by RA 10654
  • The Clean Water Act, RA 9275
  • The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, RA 10066
  • The Local Government Code of 1991, RA 7160

The groups are calling for the accountability of officials behind the project and recommend that the Manila Bay rehabilitation be focused on addressing the ecological degradation, pollution and socio-economic issues in the area.

“The dumping of crushed dolomite boulders in Manila Bay can only be described as an abdication of that grave responsibility to protect and preserve Manila Bay. This is happening at the time when our nation faces serious health, economic and climate crises,” the petition reads.

READ: Cimatu defends Manila Bay white sand project, says dolomite is safe

The so-called “white sand” project has drawn criticisms from environmental groups and netizens who described the initiative as unnecessary government expenditure. AAC

Duterte commends Cimatu for Manila Bay white sand project

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — In his public address Monday evening (September 21), President Rodrigo Duterte lauded the efforts of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in the full rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

The President expressed his high confidence in Cimatu despite criticisms on the use of crushed dolomite boulders to cover the coastline of Manila Bay and the timing of the project amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think everybody was there when I said, ‘Roy, kaya mong linisin ‘to (can you clean this up)?’ And his answer was a very curtly given, ‘Kaya kong trabahuhin (I can work on it),'” the President recalled quoting Cimatu.

The President also noted that it is common for the opposition to criticize the government in all of its undertakings and specifically, the President himself.

Wala naman talaga tayong magawa (We really cannot do anything). You do it, may masabi sila (they have something to say). You do not do it, may masabi si Leni (Leni has something to say about it too),” he added, referring to Vice President Leni Robredo who is the leader of the opposition.

“They are trying to delude people.  They are trying to picture that there’s a failure of government. We have done our best,” Duterte stressed. 

He also said the opposition should not be adding to the already heavy burden of the country brought by the pandemic.

Robredo has questioned on multiple occasions, the government’s COVID-19 response and criticized its seeming lack of direction.

Alam mo Leni kung gusto mo (You know Leni, if you want), if you really want to do away with the COVID, i-sprayhan natin itong Pilipinas o Manila ng pesticide galing sa eroplano para patay lahat (let’s spray the whole Philippines or Manila with pesticide from a plane to kill them all) […] Do not add something to the pandemic by making such reckless statements na (that) we are not doing enough,” Duterte said addressing Robredo. MNP (wirh reports from Rosalie Coz)

LIST: Rerouting scheme at Roxas Blvd. on Sept. 19 in line with the Int’l Coastal Clean-up in Manila Bay Walk

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The city government of Manila announced a rerouting of vehicular traffic in selected areas for Sunday (September 19).

This is to give way to the staging of the ‘International Coastal Clean-up at Manila Bay Walk’ that will start at 5:00 a.m.

Motorists, especially those who regularly take Roxas Boulevard, to follow the rerouting guidelines to avoid heavy traffic in affected areas.

Meanwhile, participants in the event are also advised to park at the Roxas Boulevard Southbound lane near the activity area or at the Roxas Boulevard Service Road parking area. 

No photo description available.

DENR denies dolomite caused fish kill in Manila Bay

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A video taken by Regine Nequia, president of Baseco Seaside Neighborhood Association (BASA), showed dead fish floating in Manila Bay near the Baseco Compound on Thursday (September 17) morning.

She said that a similar incident have happened in the past, but the amount of dead fish has not been as large.

Residents are asking authorities to look into the matter not only because their livelihoods depend on the bay, but also because of the stench coming from the rotting fish.

“Ang mga nawalan ng trabaho dyan kumukuha ng pangaraw-araw ding ulam, [Residents who lost their jobs get their daily meal from the fish there],” Nequia said.

“Iyog mga mangingisda naman sa ngayon ay sadyang nababahala kasi dyan nila kinukuha yung kanilang pangkabuhayan, [Fishermen, meanwhile, expressed concern over the incident as they depend (on the bay) for their income],” she added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has refuted claims that the dolomite or artificial white sand being dumped along Roxas Boulevard was the cause of the fish kill in the bay.

According to Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, the Baseco area is way far from Roxas Boulevard and the two sections are divided by a breakwater.

He also noted that it seems impossible that the fish kill happened only in Baseco area but not in the Roxas Boulevard area where the dolomite dumping is located.

“It’s impossible na iyong fish kill nandoon lang sa lugar nila pero ang nourishment nandito sa kabila. Also, there is a big divider which is the breakwater so it is really impossible na dito sa atin nanggaling iyon,” Antiporda said.

The official cited similar incidents of fish kill that occurred in October last year which happened in the portions of Las Piñas and Parañaque but that was caused by the lowering of oxygen level in the water.

Nonetheless, Antiporda is not discounting the possibility of a sabotage or someone putting poison in that part of the bay to discredit the ongoing beach nourishment project.

“Mas gusto natin tingnan iyong positive side rather than may nanabotahe but hindi din namin dini-discount iyan at tinitingnan naming mabuti kung meron pa rin bang cyanide fishing,” he said.

The agency has taken water samples from Baseco area and from the site of the white beach project to help in the investigation. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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