DENR exec: Request for add'l budget is for Manila Bay cleanup not for dolomite

An official from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) clarified Wednesday, Sep. 15, that an additional budget requested by the department before lawmakers will be used for efforts to clean up the tributaries connected to Manila Bay.

Amid criticisms that millions of money are going into waste because of the purchase of the supposedly eroding dolomite sand, DENR Usec. Jonas Leones said the P1.6 billion requested fund will no longer be allocated for the purchase of more controversial sand, but for equipment necessary for the cleanup of at least 200 contaminated rivers and creeks connected to Manila Bay.

"We’re expanding the beach area. We will be rehabilitating the area near the yacht club. to establish the beach viewing area and fish area. These are the activities in the pipeline," Leones said in an ANC interview.

He also said that the fund will be used to address the problem of water hyacinths that come from Rizal and Laguna provinces and go and get stuck in the waters of Manila Bay.

On Monday, House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza threatened to block the approval of the budget of the DENR after he was unable to ask questions during the Lower House’s briefings on the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022.

Atienza said he wanted to ask DENR why the Laguna de Bay is still filled with fish pens and fish cages despite President Duterte’s pronouncement in his first State of the Nation Address that he would clear it of all obstruction, as well as why the department has spent hundreds of millions for the Dolomite beach when it has nothing to do with cleaning up the area.

"This negates any effort to clean the Bay, and is a clear waste of money," he said.