Why corals matter: PH celebrates Coral Triangle Day

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 9, 2020   •   576

Did you know that corals are not rocks? They aren’t plants either.

Corals are animals. At a glance, we picture corals as uniquely-shaped rocks with seaweed-like leaves but in reality, corals are composed of tiny creatures called ‘polyps’.

Coral polyps are tiny organisms that are more closely related to sea anemones and jellyfishes.

What do they do exactly?

Corals serve as home to numerous sea creatures. It also protects coastlines to dissipate huge waves. Scientists can also determine prehistoric climate patterns by studying coral reefs which can make a huge impact on how we should live in the present.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle which is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is considered as the center of global marine diversity.

The Coral Triangle covers areas in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands. It is the home of 2.5 million hectares of coral reefs, 500 species of corals and 1,763 reef species.

In celebration of Coral Triangle Day, the DENR sets out to raise awareness on the importance of corals and the Coral Triangle in the country.

“There are 130 million people directly dependent on its marine natural resources,” the DENR said.

What can we do?

CleanSeas Pilipinas reiterated the importance of preserving coral reefs especially when climate change and pollution in the ocean continue to threat marine life.

Here are some of the actions we can do to help save the coral reefs:

  • Don’t touch coral reefs!
  • Use reef-safe sunscreens
  • Don’t purchase corals from gift shops
  • Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups

“Protecting them is essential to food security as coral reefs contribute to 70% of fishery production in the world,” the organization said. –AAC

Environmental group launches online petition vs Manila Bay white sand project

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2020

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

Critics eyeing writ of kalikasan vs Manila Bay white sand project

Robie de Guzman   •   September 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several environmental groups are planning to file a petition for writ of kalikasan to halt the project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pour white sand along the shoreline of Manila Bay.

Ocean conservation group Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos said lodging a petition is one of the actions they are discussing to respond to DENR’s white sand project.

“It’s always an option under the rules of procedure for environmental cases, even a threat to destruction. Ito nga may destruction na e, kaya it’s a ground for applying for writ of kalikasan. Mag-meeting ang mga environmental groups on this,” she said in a forum on Monday.

Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya president Fernando Hicap also opposed the project, saying that it is only a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Ipahinto natin. Hindi po talaga ito yung solusyon. Nagsasayang tayo ng pera at hindi po rehabilitation to. Hindi to makakatulong sa pagrehabilitate sa Manila Bay.”

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they are prepared to face the petition and defend the merits of the project.

“If they say na yung proteksyon natin sa shoreline din natin e mali, well it’s up to them. It’s their right to file their case against us,” he said.

“We’re there to clean it up and we’re there to make it beautiful, ok? So, if that is their allegation, i-prove nila na talagang merong violation kaming nagawa, yun lang ang amin. Well, basically I don’t see any violation in what we’ve done,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Crushed dolomite along Manila Bay can cause respiratory issues, DOH says

Robie de Guzman   •   September 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday warned that the inhalation of crushed dolomite rock – the material used in the artificial white sand dumped along the Manila Bay – can cause respiratory issues.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that based on studies, a person may suffer adverse effects from inhaling dolomite dust.

“Sa mga pag-aaral, kapag na inhale natin ito, may mga adverse reactions, respiratory mainly,” Vergeire said.

“Pero hindi naman natin sinasabi na when you go to Manila Bay, you’ll get it at once. Yun lang sinasabi ng mga artikulo,” she added.

Aside from respiratory problems, dolomite dust may also cause irritation if it gets into a person’s eyes or gastrointestinal discomfort if ingested.

“Kapag napunta sa mata, nagkakaroon ng konting irritation so you just have to wash it off with water. Kapag ingested, it can have discomfort sa gastrointestinal system natin and magkakaroon ng sakit ng tyan at pagtatae,” Vergeire said.

“These are the minor effects of these dolomites na nilagay sa Manila Bay,” she added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last week implemented its initiative to adorn the Manila Bay shoreline with white sand using crushed dolomite rocks from Cebu Province.

The projects is part of the P389-million beach nourishment project.

Vergeire, however, said she trusts that the DENR has made studies on how dolomite will affect people and the environment before it approved the project.

Some groups have criticized the DENR’s move, saying dumping artificial white sand along Manila Bay was unnecessary and could even negatively affect the ecosystem.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Artiporda earlier argued that crushed dolomite rock is not harmful to the environment and is being used in some resorts.

“The dolomite stones, sabihin na nating dolomite stones, sandstones yan no, were being used by different resorts and beaches since the 1990s. So until now walang problema at maganda naman yung sitwasyon niya,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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