The commander of Ermita Police Station was removed from his post Sunday after nearly a thousand people flocked to Manila Bay to touch, see and walk on the now famous dolomite white sand, ignoring physical distancing protocols.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda, Manila Police District (MPD) director, confirmed to reporters the relief of Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan.
Miranda said there were more visitors at Manila Bay on Sunday than when it opened briefly to the public Saturday.
The crowd caused traffic along Roxas Boulevard that was closed Saturday for the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.
Cesar Chavez, the chief-of-staff of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, said they were surprised at the number of people who flocked to Manila Bay.
“Nabigla rin kami (We were also surprised),” he told reporters. “Mukhang mahihirapan kami (It looks like it would be difficult for us to control the crowd).”
“While we are happy that people are enjoying, we should maintain physical distancing because there is still COVID-19 in Manila,” he added.
He said they reminded Miranda twice on Saturday to anticipate the crowd the next day and mobilize the police force to properly implement physical distancing and other health protocols.
Around 80 police officers were deployed to Manila Bay Sunday morning, the MPD chief said. Chavez said they banned people from crowding the overpass near the area.
However, Miranda admitted they had difficulty controlling the crowd.
“Hindi maawat ang mga tao, masyadong na-excite (We could not hold back the crowd, they were too excited). Everybody wants to see the white sand,” he told reporters.
“Lahat gusto ng (Everybody wants a) share of the pie. Gusto mag-picture, i-post sa social media na ‘Nakapunta ako sa white sand’ (They want to take pictures and post on social media that they have been to the white sands),” he added.
Chavez said that, since Manila Bay will only be open to the public on weekends, officials will have time to discuss the incident.