The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would not have approved the “beach enhancement” of Manila Bay if it did not pass its environment impact assessment and would not benefit the nation, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Manila Bay “white sand” project went through a government study not only to beautify the place but also address its problems on soil erosion and flooding of nearby roads.
Roque also explained that the laying of “white sand” along Manila Bay was part of the 2020 national budget, that was approved last year. Under the budget rules, he said the fund allocation can only be used for its intended purpose.
“It’s not as if pinlano po itong proyektong ito ngayong panahon ng COVID – hindi po. Ang 2020 budget na ginagamit po natin para sa proyektong ito, 2019 pa po na-approve, wala pa pong COVID noon (It’s not as if it was planned during the time of COVID. The 2020 national budget we are using for the project was approved in 2019. There was no COVID then), ” he added.
The Manila Bay rehabilitation project, which includes the laying of crushed dolomite rocks along its shoreline, has recently drawn criticisms from Vice President Leni Robredo and other environmental protection advocates.
The artificial beach project reportedly costs an estimated P389 million.
“Like all projects which can affect the environment, dumaan ito sa masusing pag-aaral. nagkaroon ito ng environmental assessment at kung hindi naman ito beneficial sa atin hindi ito inapubrahan ito ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Like all projects which can affect the environment, it went though a thorough study. There was an environmental assessment conduct and if it was not beneficial to us, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would not have approved it),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday.
“Hindi lang ito beautification (This is not just a beautification project). This is a project intended to prevent further soil erosion and also intended to help alleviate yung flooding problem natin sa Maynila (flood problem in Manila),” he added.
Roque, born in Manila, said although it is “primarily a beautification project,” he is pleased with the latest attraction of Manila Bay.
“As a resident of Manila, I am happy na magkakaroon tayo ng beautification of Manila Bay kasi kaming mga taga-Maynila ay kinakailangan din magkaroon ng access sa magandang beach sa ga panahon na hindi naman pupuwedeng lumabas ng Metro Manila (As a resident of Manila, I am happy we will have a beautification of Manila Bay because Manila residents would need access to a beautiful beach since we can’t go outside of Metro Manila yet),” he said.
“Pero itong ginawa po nila, ito po ay tinatawag na beach enhancement, so hindi lang po ito pagpapaganda. Itong beach enhancement pong ito ay para po maiwasan ang soil erosion at para makatulong din po sa flood control (But this project called beach enhancement is not only for beautification. The beach enhancement also aims to avoid soil erosion and help with flood control),” he said.
Roque also assured the public that the DENR knows “what do or not to do” especially since it is the approving authority on a project’s impact to the environment.
He noted that proper engineering works are implemented to ensure the artificial white sand will not just be blown away.
On the possible filing of a petition to ask the Supreme Court to halt the controversial project, Roque said the Palace would respect any decision of the court. But he expressed confidence that the DENR is fulfilling its duty to protect the environment.