THE chairman of the House committee on natural resources on Thursday said he sees no valid objection to the transformation of the Manila Bay shoreline into a white-sand beach using Cebu province’s crushed dolomite rocks.
“I’m fully convinced that there is no valid objection as far as this project is concerned,” Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr., a CPA-lawyer by profession and panel chairman, said on the beach enhancement project, which also aims to help improve flood control and prevent soil erosion in the Baywalk area of Manila Bay. Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, a former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the beautification project of Manila Bay shoreline has the support of the House of Representatives.
“Hindi ko alam kung saan nanggagaling kung may oposisyon man. Pero dito sa Kongreso, may suporta (itong Manila Bay beautification), umasa kayo sa suporta namin,” Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said dolomite will even help clean Manila Bay’s waters.
“Nakakalinis po siya ng tubig, ginagamit sa aquarium ‘yan. Ginagamit po ito sa sand area sa golf. Safe po iyan. Hindi first time na gagawin ‘yun ng DENR. Excited na ako pumunta sa Manila Bay. Ang huling punta ko was 40 years ago,“ Villafuerte said. “I think we should give the secretary a chance.”
Barzaga, Defensor and Villafuerte supported DENR’s project during the House committee on appropriations deliberations last Tuesday on the proposed budget of the department under the proposed P4.506 trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the Duterte administration for 2021.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda welcomed criticisms on the Manila Bay beautification project, but assured that the DENR will continue with the implementation of the program.
“Well, first of all that is their prerogative. We welcome the criticism and all the actions they will do. But again one thing we can tell them is tuloy-tuloy po ang trabaho namin base na rin sa kautusan ng ating Korte Suprema na ipagpatuloy po ang inuutos na mandamus na linisin po ‘yang Manila Bay,” said Antiporda.
“And at the same time, tuloy rin po ‘yung pagpapaganda namin d’yan dahil nakikita naman po natin iilan lang po ang nagsasalita na karamihan po ay hindi po alam ang buong buod ng kanilang sinasabi, especially ‘yung usapin sa health hazard, ecosystem, sa historical heritage,” Antiporda said.
Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu defended before a House budget briefing the use of dolomite, stressing it is not a health hazard and the project underwent a technical study.
“We are really very sure of the safety of the use of dolomite in that area,” Cimatu stressed during the budget briefing following previous warnings from the Department of Health (DoH) regarding its possible health hazards.
“Dolomite in its natural state is not a known health hazard,” Cimuta said, recalling also that the Manila Bay’s beautification project was an offshoot of the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court (SC) for the government to cleanup the area.
He said there was no any complaint received from several private establishments and resorts using dolomite.