Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu ordered on Wednesday, Oct. 27, the immediate relief of the ground commander of the Manila Bay Task Force over the recent Dolomite beach overcrowding which led to the violation of health measures against COVID-19.
Relieved from post was Jacob Meimban, who was also the Deputy Executive Director of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office.
His relief would pave the way for the “honest to goodness” investigation into the overcrowding incidents at the Dolomite beach for the past two weekends since it reopened to the public on Oct. 16, according to DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda.
“The incident needs to be investigated so we could correct [our mistakes],” Cimatu said in Filipino in a press conference.
Despite the crowding at the Dolomite beach, Cimatu congratulated Meimban for being able to prevent a “potential tragedy” that could have had happened at the footbridge outside the beach area over the weekend.
“He took concern first in the safety of those people in the footbridge because there were some people imploding themselves, who hear the creaking sound of the foot bridge because of the overflow of the people there,” Cimatu said.
“While you leave the post, I congratulate you for doing all these things despite this unfortunate event in your tenure as your ground commanfer in those critical times,” the environment chief told Meimban.
Antiporda said Meimban will be replaced by Retired General Reuel Sorilla, DENR’s director of enforcement service.
DENR picked Sorilla for the position as Antiporda said the overcrowding at the Dolomite beach was an enforcement issue, so someone with enforcement capacity would be fit for the role.
Both Cimatu and Antiporda said the investigation would focus on the rainfall that caused the violation of the social distancing, the extreme influx of the people and the footbridge incident, among others reasons that violated health protocols.
Considering the reasons that were apparently out of Meimban’s control, Cimatu clarified that DENR is not making him a “sacrificial lamb” just to say that the agency is doing something regarding the incident.
“He already said that being the commander, he takes full responsibility for what happened,” the secretary said.