The government is unlikely to halt the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, including the use of crushed dolomite rocks along the shoreline, despite concerns raised by some groups.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the funds have already been allocated for the Manila Bay project and that the government is determined to complete the program.
“Ito po, completely bid out and partially executed, so kinakailangan pong tapusin iyan (This has been completely bid out and partially executed so it must be completed),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, May 24 when asked if President Duterte was considering to stop the project and realign the funds to address more urgent needs.
Roque explained that the budget for the Manila Bay project could no longer be realigned to another program since it is already being implemented. He said the fund allocation has long been placed under the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a specific purpose.
“Hindi po iyan bagong budget (It’s not a new budget allocation),” he said.
“At bagama’t mayroon po tayong Bayanihan law that allows the President to realign funds, hindi po applicable iyan doon sa mga funds na na-commit na (And although we have the Bayanihan law that allows the President to realign funds, that is not applicable to the funds that have been committed),” he added.
The rehabilitation project of Manila Bay became subject to public scrutiny after authorities started pouring crushed dolomite rocks last year to transform the polluted stretch of shoreline into a white sand beach. Some environmental groups have questioned the overlaying of the artificial white sand over the Manila Bay shoreline, which they claimed focused on aesthetics instead of addressing the environmental problems.
But the Palace defended that the such white sand makeover of Manila Bay could benefit the mental health of Filipinos during the pandemic. President Duterte also found nothing wrong with the project, saying people can at least enjoy the area with white sand.