Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he supports the move of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to fill the Manila Baywalk with synthetic white sand, in yet another attempt to improve its appearance.
“They (DENR) went beyond the plan to make it more vibrant, Manila Bay, and we agree with it, we support DENR,” he said in a press briefing on Friday.
DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the Manila Bay project would allow people, who have never visited white sand beaches in the country, to have a similar experience in the middle of the capital city.
Domagoso shrugged off claims that the synthetic white sand, made of crushed dolomite boulders from Cebu, is harmful for the environment, saying that the environment department would be the first ones to know about its effects.
“I think DENR on its own knows it better to protect the environment,” he said. “I don’t think a person who, right now, is in a particular agency of government who is supposed to be taking care of our environment will pollute our environment.”
“Kung sakaling napatunayan na ang mga nilagay na ito ay makapaminsala (Should it be proven that the white sand being placed there is harmful), I think DENR knows it better than me,” he added.
Several environmental groups opposed the use of the white sand as it could reportedly harm the natural ecosystem and coastal integrity of Manila Bay. The groups also hit at the DENR’s alleged intention to focus on the area’s aesthetic improvement instead of its problems of environmental degradation.
The Manila mayor said studies should be done to ensure the safety of using the synthetic white sand.
“The next action would be to really scrutinize the supposed danger of that particular sand to our environment,” he said.
Earlier, University of the Philippines Resilience Institute Executive Director Mahar Lagmay said in a tweet that the white sand may be washed out from the coastline and brought to the bottom of the water.
The local chief executive pledged that they will continue helping in cleaning Manila Bay.
He said that since he assumed office, members of the Department of Public Services have been ridding Manila Bay’s water of solid waste every day.
He also said that they will continue to monitor the establishments surrounding the said area to ensure that they are practicing proper waste disposal.