MANILA, Philippines – A civil society organization wants the cessation of renewed dolomite dumping on Manila Bay.
The group, in a statement, urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately order its contractor to stop the dumping of new loads of crushed dolomite on the baywalk area of Manila Bay.
“Instead of tending to the flawed beautification project of Manila Bay, the government needs to prioritize the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on its people,” Oceana vice president Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said.
“What is happening now is appalling. People need to be protected from this alarming fast transmission of COVID-19 and the rising number of deaths from the virus. The poor need subsidy because of loss of income and worried that their family will die not only from COVID but from hunger,” he added.
The group’s call comes after several backhoe operators were seen pouring and levelling crushed dolomite sand in Manila Bay early Wednesday morning.
Estenzo-Ramos emphasized that the project is just a “band-aid” solution.
“Dolomite dumped in the area from September to December 2020 has already been reclaimed by the sea. From December 2020 to February 2021, this dolomite beach has eroded by at least 300 square meters. They are refilling it again and even extending the area,” she said.
She also demanded that an Environmental Impact Assessment be conducted on the project, despite claims by DENR that it will not conduct any such study considering that it is a “beautification project and will be beneficial to the environment.
READ: Manila Bay rehab project, target tapusin sa ikatlong bahagi ng taon — DENR
Manila Bay is a key biodiversity area identified by the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and a sardine-spawning ground identified by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Critics have slammed the project, questioning its necessity and costs as the Philippines continues to struggle against controlling the spread of COVID-19.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Works and Highways have defended the project saying it serves as an “enhancer” for the beautification project in the area.