Malacañang is not buying the argument that the funds for the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay could be used for the government’s COVID-19 response instead, saying the white beach in the famous destination can improve the people’s mental health amid the pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement amid the debate over the ongoing rehabilitation of the Manila Bay, especially the white sand that was used to cover the baywalk in the area.
In an interview Saturday, Roque debunked the argument raised by some that the funds for the project could have been used for the government’s COVID-19 response. Netizens have pointed out that President Duterte kept on saying that the government was running out of funds already.
According to Roque, the white sand beach in Manila Bay can actually help improve the public’s mental health as it will distract them from the global health crisis.
“I don’t buy that argument. Kasi alam mo, sa gitna ng pandemya, kinakailangan din na pangalagaan ang mental health (Because you know, we all need to take care of our mental health in the middle of the pandemic),” he told reporters.
“I think, yung pagpapasyal sa mga lugar kagaya ng Manila Bay, hindi mo maka-quantify ang epekto niyan pagdating po sa mental health ng ating mga kababayan–yung kapayapaan ng pag-iisip (I think going to places like Manila Bay, you can’t quantify its effect on our mental health–the peace that it brings in our minds),” he added.
Roque likewise said he does not believe that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would pursue the project if it would hurt the environment.
“Sa tingin ko naman po hindi itutuloy ang proyekto ng DENR nang walang sapat na pag-aaral (I think the DENR would not pursue this project without prior study),” he said.
Roque said on Friday that the DENR used crushed sedimentary rocks, which appear like white sand, for the rehabilitation project at Manila Bay.
The Palace official said he is personally looking forward to the outcome of the project.
“I’m looking forward to it dahil ako po ay mahilig talaga na maglakad at maupo diyan sa Manila Bay (because it’s really a habit of mine to walk along and sit down at the Manila Bay),” Roque said.
Roque added that the white sand beach in Manila Bay would also boost its popularity worldwide.
“Sa tingin ko po ang beach na ‘yan ang makakatulong pa para maging pinakamagandang lugar sa buong mundo ang Manila Bay (I think that beach would help Manila Bay be known as one of the most beautiful places in the world),” he said.
“Right now, Manila Bay is known for its sunset, probably the best sunset in the world. With the white beach there, it will be one of the most picturesque sceneries in the whole world,” he added.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told ABS-CBN this week that the project was meant to bring the beach experience closer to Filipinos who could not travel.