Vaccine over sand: Fresh dose of dolomite in Manila Bay draws renewed criticisms

April 14, 2021 - 1:00 PM
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Workers dump crushed dolomite along the shoreline of Manila Bay on Wednesday, as part of the P389 million project of the government to rehabilitate the bay. (The STAR/Edd Gumban)

The national government’s controversial white sand beach project in Manila Bay was revived amid the worsening pandemic situation in the country.

Photos of fresh coat of dolomite being dumped along a portion of Roxas Boulevard were reported on social media on Tuesday, April 13, which immediately drew some renewed criticisms online.

In the photos, large trucks dumped large amounts of pulverized rocks to replace the sands washed away from areas underneath and fill the 500 meters stretch of the bay walk.

The white sand beach is part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program that started in January 2017.

This white-sand beach project which construction started in September 2020 reportedly costs a hefty P349 million.

 

During that time, Vice President Leni Robredo joined other Filipinos in criticizing such allocation and stated that it could have been better used to provide for the much-needed medical supplies and equipment for health workers in the country.

Renewed criticisms

Filipinos slammed the dumping of the fresh dose of dolomite, saying the funds could have been used to resolve the shortage of vaccine supply in the country.

“Bakuna hindi graba,” creative director Thysz Estrada wrote.

“In case you were tamad to do the math. P389,000,000 = 637,704 full doses of AstraZeneca,” sports anchor Aaron Atayde commented.

Some Twitter users also pointed out that the large budget could have been allocated for financial support to the poor affected by the pandemic.

“97,250 families (at 4K each) could have been assisted by the P389M spent for this useless dolomite,” the user wrote.

The Department of Interior and Local Government previously assured the public that the distribution of P22.9 billion aid for the poor will continue as the NCR Plus Bubble (the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite) shifts to the modified enhanced community quarantine.

Environmentalist Mitzi Jonelle Tan, meanwhile, raised the environmental impact of the dolomite rocks to the bay, which was the same concern environmental groups voiced out last year.

“Literally throwing money into the ocean for nothing + the environmental repercussions of mining the dolomite! This isn’t how you rehabilitate Manila Bay. You do that by stopping the reclamation projects destroying the ecosystems, corals, mangroves, and displacing fisherfolk!” Tan said.

Environmental groups and other concerned Filipinos had also previously protested against the white sand beach along Roxas Boulevard.

They denounced the lack of transparency in the studies made for it and the added pollution dolomite rocks had contributed to the environment instead of helping it recover.

READ: DENR told to focus on pollution as it works to transform Manila Bay into a ‘white sand beach’

Twitter user @IamCharotism, meanwhile, shared an edited video clip of Korean group BTS’ performance of their hit “Dynamite” and dubbed it with new lyrics that criticize the Manila Bay situation and the worsening health crisis.

“Dolomite by BTS. Charot!” the caption read.

Writer Juan Miguel Severo also joined similar quips about the beach improving their mental health.

“Nag-retouch for our mental health how thoughtful,” Severo wrote.

This was in reference to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s remark in a briefing last year when questioned about the realignment of funds from the COVID-19 relief programs to the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“Kasi alam mo sa gitna ng pandemya. Kelangan din alagaan yung mental health. I think yung pagpapasyal sa mga lugar tulad ng Manila Bay na may white beach, hindi mo maka-quantify ang epekto niyan pagdating po sa mental health,” Roque said.