The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is almost done filling a stretch of the Manila Bay baywalk with “white sand,” amid calls to stop the activity due to health and environmental issues.
“Malapit na matapos ang paglalagay ng white sand sa Manila Bay pero nakadepende sa water quality kung papayagan na ang pagligo sa Manila Bay. (The white sand project in Manila Bay is almost over. But allowing bathing again in Manila Bay will depend on its water quality),” Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said in a DZBB interview.
“Tuloy tuloy ang trabaho namin base na rin sa kautusan ng Korte Suprema na ipagpatuloy ‘yung mandamus na linisin ang Manila Bay. At the same time tuloy pa rin ang pagpapaganda natin diyan. (We will continue our work based on the Supreme Court mandamus to clean up Manila Bay and at the same time we will continue the beautification of the area),” he said.
Oceana Philippines earlier said several laws have not been followed by the DENR when it dumped synthetic white sand on the coast of the Manila Bay.
Under the Fisheries Code, Local Government Code, and the Environmental Impact Assessment System Act, government agencies are required to undergo Environmental Impact Study process and Environmental Compliance Certificate for this kind of project, Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos said.
Antiporda said the department welcomes all criticisms and actions of those against the project, as DENR has legal basis and proper research before it was implemented.
“Lahat naman po ay pinag-aralang mabuti kaya wala po kaming kinakatakutan kung anuman ‘yung aksyon na gagawin nila. (Everything has been studied carefully so whatever action they will take, we have nothing to fear),” he added.
Antiporda also clarified a statement made by the Department of Health that “dolomite dust” poses health risk.
He said Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire referred to dolomite dust or “alikabok,” which is in fact a health risk.
“Itong dolomite dust ay nakukuha sa proseso ng pagmimina ng dolomite, kapag nasa crushing plant. Itong nasa amin na dolomite ay finished product na po. Hindi na po ito malalanghap ng tao. (This dolomite dust is obtained during the dolomite mining process, while in the crushing plant. This dolomite we have is a finished product. People can no longer inhale it),” he explained.
Antiporda further pointed out that the size of the dolomite stone that was transported from Cebu was 5 millimeters big, or “100 times bigger than the dolomite dust,” which makes it impossible for a person to inhale it.
“Ang dolomite ay isang agent para ma-control ang polusyon. ‘Yung white sand na nakikita natin sa aquarium na parang durog na shell ‘yan ay dolomite din po. Nakikita natin na ang mga isda sa aquarium ay masisigla. (Dolomite is an agent for pollution control. The white sand we see in the aquarium like a crushed shell is also dolomite and we can tell that the fish in the aquarium are healthy),” he added.
The DENR official reiterated the safety of dolomite as it also used at the Plantation Bay in Cebu, and is still being used in other parts of the world.
“Ang ginagawa natin ay beach nourishment. Dati pa pong may buhangin ito, muli lang natin binubuhay. Hindi po ito reclaimed. (What we are doing is beach nourishment because we are just trying to revive the sand there. This is not a reclaimed area),” Antiporda said.