“DON’T make it appear na pinahahalagahan ninyo ang kapakanan namin (Manilans) kesa sa pinahahalagahan namin ang kapakanan namin. Di kayo ‘knight in shining armor.’ We are excited to benefit from it but we guarantee, if there is any violation of environmental protection or laws, we will act but so far, maliwanag na walang panganib.”
Thus said Manila Mayor Isko Moreno as he referred to what he branded as instant specialist experts on the issue of white sand and dolomites and the supposed harm that the Manila Bay white sand project will bring to the residents of the city.
The mayor noted that the project was not thought of or implemented overnight, noting that it actually began as far back as two years ago and that it is also part of the 2020 budget presented to lawmakers, some of whom now express opposition.
“There must be a valid reason to stop this project. Baka nakakaligtaan natin, rehabilitation ito of the entire Manila Bay and you’re talking of Manila alone. It is composed of many provinces, municipalities and cities and this is just the beginning that’s why we are very grateful. The attention of many was drawn because white sand. What if it was black sand?” Moreno said, noting that environmentalists have been fighting for a clean bay for 20 years and it will be unfair to them if the project is stopped. “You have to trust the government. It doesn’t make sense that the DENR tasked to protect the environment will lead in destroying it,” he added, stressing that no less than the Department of Health (DOH) has issued a statement saying the project does not compromise the safety of the public with regard the dolomite issue.
Moreno said he was made to understand that certain measures or engineering works will be done in the area to ensure that the white sand will not be just washed away in case of a storm or big waves.
He added that the entire project entails not only the putting of white sand but also the total rehabilitation of the bay and the installation of a sewerage treatment plant.
According to Moreno, the rehabilitation project had started a few months before he assumed office in 2019 so that he finds it nonsensical for some to say that the money should have been used to buy rice instead of sand.
“It was started two years ago and no one talked about it. If we will experience what our lolos and lolas experienced in the heydays of the Manila Bay which was clean and where there were fishes, siguro ‘yun na ang regalo natin sa next generation. Imagine, a highly-urbanized area with a beach. It is a good atttaction for the city, good for business, employment and the inhabitants,” the mayor said.