Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan has asked the Senate to investigate, in aid of legislation, the possible environmental and health hazards of the Manila Bay Nourishment Project which he called “wasteful and unnecessary.’’
“Napakaraming ibang dapat gastusan ng pera ng bayan, hindi ang white beach project sa Manila Bay. Lumampas na sa 380,000 ang COVID cases, marami nang dumaan na malalakas na bagyo, pero pinipilit pa rin na tama ito. Ang tanong: Kailangan ba talaga ito?” Pangilinan said. (There are many worthwhile projects that the government can implement, not the White Beach Project in Manila Bay. COVID-19 cases have reached 380,000, many strong typhoons have crossed the country. But why insist that it is right? The question is: is this project needed?)
The project is known as the Manila Bay White Sand Beach.
In Senate Resolution (SR) 565, Pangilinan raised concerns of sustainability, legality, and possible environmental and public health hazards of the controversial Manila Bay project.
“This project is wasteful and unnecessary. Dapat ginamit ang milyon-milyong pondo para i-supplement ang ating pandemic health response, o kaya para sa distance learning gadgets at materials ng mga guro at estudyante. Pwede rin sanang cash aid para sa milyong mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho ngayong pandemya,” Pangilinan said. (The millions of pesos for the project should have been used to supplement our pandemic health response or for long distance learning gadgets and materials to teachers and students. It could have been used for cash aid to millions of Filipinos who have lost their jobs caused by the pandemic.)
SR 565 also calls on the Senate to investigate the possible liability of erring government officials involved in the said project, with probable violations of the Local Government Code, Philippine Fisheries Code, Wildlife Conservation Act, Environmental Impact Assessment System, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and/or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Hindi lang sa Manila Bay ang problema kundi na rin sa pagmimina ng mga dolomite sa Alcoy, Cebu na posibleng ikinasira ng mga coral reefs at pagkawala ng tirahan ng ilang endangered species. Sa madaling sabi, mas maraming problema pa itong dinala kesa solusyon sana,” Pangilinan said. (It is not only Manila Bay that has a problem but also the dolomite mining operations in Alcoy, Cebu that could have destroyed coral reefs and loss of refuge for some endangered species. In other words, the project caused more problems than its intended solutions.)
“Sayang ang pera, parang pinaanod lang sa dagat,” he said. (The money spent for the project appeared to have been swallowed by the bay.)
Rising waves at the Manila Bay have reportedly started to erode, blow, or wash away the P28 million-worth of crushed dolomite rocks.
There are also concerns that the strong typhoons that barrel through the country every year will wash away the proposed white beach, especially following the back-to-back typhoon ‘’Quinta’’ and super typhoon ‘’Rolly.’’