Vice President Leni Robredo said today that the white sand project at the Manila Bay is a misplaced priority by the government especially during this coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking in her weekly radio show, Robredo called out the administration for spending P349 million for the project when it had repeatedly admitted the lack of funds for COVID-19 response.
“Napaka-insensitive na gagawin mo ‘yan sa height ng pandemic na ang daming nagugutom, ang daming naghihirap (It is very insensitive you will do that at the height of pandemic when many people are starving and suffering),” she said.
”Sa panahon ngayon na ang sagot sa atin wala tayong pera, nakakainsulto kapag nakikita ng tao ‘yung ganitong programa (At a time like this when their response to us is that we have no funds, it is insulting when people see this kind of program),” she added.
The Vice President suggested to give each of the 10 million poorest Filipinos families a monthly cash aid worth P5,000 to help them cope during the crisis but the government has no plans to implement it because it has no enough funds.
Robredo said the millions of funds used for the white sand project of Manila Bay could have been better spent to help 80,000 families in need.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started to cover the 500-meter stretch of Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard in Manila with white sand that came from crushed dolomite boulders in Cebu.
This is part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program launched by DENR last year that cost almost P400 million.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the white sand beach Manila Bay can help improve the public’s mental health amid criticisms the funds for it could have been used for COVID-19 response.
But Robredo disagreed.
“Iyong makatulong sa mental health ng tao, tapusin na ang pandemya. Gawin natin ‘yung lahat para bumalik na tayo sa normal (What can help the public’s mental health is to end the pandemic. Let us do everything, so we can return to normal),” she said.
The lady official said the administration should reassess the 2020 budget towards the COVID-19 response to meet the pressing needs of the people during the crisis.