DENR to critics: ‘Where were you when people complained about how dirty Manila Bay has become?’

Published September 15, 2020, 7:15 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

More than a week since the controversial “beach nourishment” project drew flak from various groups, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has directly addressed its “blind critics” who “villified” its efforts to give Manila Bay’s shore the much-needed makeover.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement Tuesday, the DENR said it “welcomes and respects” constructive criticisms, as words of encouragement help the agency keep its focus on getting the job done “notwithstanding criticisms made by some quarters.”

The department, however, lambasted its critics who have been “propagating lies and baseless accusations against the DENR and government in general in all forums, including social media, to advance their selfish interests.”

“Where were you when people complained about how dirty Manila Bay has become?” the DENR asked, noting it is “right and just” for supporters of the project to ask critics this all-important question.

The DENR reiterated that the beach nourishment project is a significant component of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program, which dates back in 2008 when the Supreme Court issued a writ of continuing mandamus directing the DENR and other government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve the historic bay known globally for its spectacular sunsets.

“More than a decade since the landmark ruling was handed down by the high tribunal, it was only under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that the government finally set in motion an honest-to-goodness endeavor to bring Manila Bay back to its former glory,” it pointed out.

It further cited that since January, 2019, the DENR, along with other mandamus agencies that also constitute the Manila Bay Task Force eventually created by the President, has been conducting regular massive cleanups along the bay and its tributaries, preparing to install three more sewage treatment plants within Metro Manila after setting up the first one on Roxas Boulevard, and closely monitoring compliance by commercial and residential establishments with the country’s clean water law and other pertinent rules and regulations.

The government has also started relocating informal settlers living along the coast of the bay since they are known to be largely contributing to pollution in the area, it added

“These are just among the accomplishments of the DENR and the Manila Bay Task Force that seemed to have been purposely disregarded by detractors, who chose instead to ignore facts and spouted conspiracy theories to cast aspersions on a well-meaning project,” the DENR said.

It said it does not see an end to critics whining about the alleged health hazards posed by crushed dolomite boulders placed along the shore of Manila Bay despite the assurance from the Department of Health that “no untoward incidents will occur as a result of the endeavor.”

The DENR also reassured the public that the funds used for the project will not be put to waste as engineering interventions are being made to prevent the artificial white sand from being washed away.

The project likewise passed the required environmental impact assessment, it said.

 “The beach nourishment project is more than just aesthetics, it is a strategy to promote pro-environment behavior among Filipinos. It is our hope that the beautiful white sand would inspire people to be more mindful of their obligation to keep Manila Bay clean,” it added.

The department said it is determined to finish the project “to give our people a nice, cozy, and clean place to relax, recreate and enjoy the world’s most beautiful sunsets.”

 
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