I would like to take this opportunity to disabuse the minds of those who may be misled into believing what seems to be an incessant effort to discredit the Manila Bay project and create unnecessary fear in the hearts and minds of the public, as if the fear we already have to live with every day due to the pandemic is not enough.
Government critics are easy to pounce on the issue and have apparently become instant specialists and experts on white sand and dolomites, with some even becoming health experts and going to the extent of issuing warnings on the supposed hazards that the white sand being used in the Manila Bay project purportedly poses on the health and lives of the public.
First off, the implementation of the entire project did not happen overnight. It actually begun months before I assumed office in 2019. It was also part of the 2020 budget that was presented to our honorable lawmakers, some of whom now surprisingly oppose it.
More importantly, the project involves not only the putting of white sand on the beach but the total rehabilitation of the entire Manila Bay. It entails not only the city of Manila but also other provinces, municipalities, and cities as well and most of all, the installation of a sewerage treatment plant.
I did not turn a blind eye amid the howls of protest as in fact, I sought the expert opinion of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources itself and the Department of Health regarding the issues being raised by critics, specifically the concern that the dolomites might allegedly compromise the safety of the public.
Both departments of the national government offered scientific and research-based answers, effectively debunking the unfounded fears and allegations.The Department of Health (DOH) has in fact issued a statement, saying the presence of dolomites will not in any way compromise the safety of the public, contrary to what is being floated by those opposed to the government and the project.
The DOH went on to clarify that dolomite, in its bulk state, is not a known health hazard. It explained further that dolomite in dust form, like any other dust particle, can lead to symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and coughing, for this is our body’s normal reaction to irritants.
On the part of the DENR, it said that the dolomite material that is being used in the white beach Manila Bay project is 2-5mm or 100 times bigger than dust and therefore does not get suspended in air.
Moreover, occupational health and safety standards for workers and precautionary measures for the containment of possible dust formation are also being implemented.
Therefore, in terms of the general safety of the public who will be enjoying the shoreline once permitted, the DOH assures that no untoward incidents will occur as a result of the endeavor.
In my own humble opinion, we have to put our trust in the national government. It simply does not any make sense that the DENR, which is primarily tasked to protect the environment, will have the heart to lead in destroying it.
I also hope that those who just want to bash the government in the guise of caring for the people of Manila will stop using us Manilans for their own selfish ends. It is revolting how some try hard to appear like “knights in shining armor” by making it seem like they care about the welfare of Manilans more than we care for our own.
While we in Manila are indeed excited to benefit from the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay since it is being done at no expense to the local government coffers and may generate much-needed tourism and jobs and also rev up businesses in the city, I guarantee that we will definitely act if there is any violation of environmental protection or laws involved which, so far, there is none.
There must be a valid reason to demand a stop to the project. Halting it on baseless fears will be totally unfair for the environmentalists who have been fighting for a clean Manila Bay for 20 years will be unfair.
By the way, I was also assured that an ample amount of engineering works will be done in the area to ensure that the white sand will be fully protected, that it will not be just washed away in case of a storm or big waves, as feared by some.
Notably, the project was started about two years ago and no one really talked about it. Now if we will be able to experience what our “lolos and lolas” enjoyed during the heyday of the Manila Bay when it was clean, totally swimmable, and where there were fishes freely swimming in its waters, that would be priceless.
Having a nice, white sand beach in a highly urbanized area is definitely a good attraction for the city, good for business, employment, and the inhabitants as well.
As it is, people already begin flocking in the area to take pictures of the white sand even as the project is still ongoing. Once done, it would be a nice and lasting gift to the next generation of Manilans and hopefully, the next after them.
Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang magmamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!
For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account – “Isko Moreno Domagoso.”