Supreme Court won’t hold DENR in contempt over dolomite beach


The Supreme Court will not hold the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in contempt for installing an artificial white beach along Manila Bay, ruling it has not yet found any violation of its order to rehabilitate and preserve the harbor.

The tribunal denied the motion to intervene filed by progressive group Akbayan which alleged the DENR violated the SC's continuing mandamus or order for the cleanup and maintenance of Manila Bay by dumping crushed dolomite onto a part of the bay.

The DENR has been criticized for its P28-million dolomite beach project, a part of a larger beach nourishment program, and the hazards the material is said to pose to humans and the ecosystem.

The Department of Health initially said the inhalation of crushed dolomite may cause respiratory issues but later clarified that the material in its bulk state "is not a known health hazard."

In its Tuesday en banc session, the court said intervention no longer applies because the case had been decided with finality as early as 2008 and is now being executed, though still under its supervision due to the nature of the order.

"The Court held that it has not yet found any violation of the continuing mandamus amidst the quarterly reports submitted by the concerned agencies and the on-site ocular inspection conducted by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC)," the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said Thursday.

"The Court, at least for the time being, should stay its disciplining hand," the SC PIO said.


The MBAC is chaired by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, the only incumbent justice who was already in the tribunal when it came out with a landmark decision directing the government to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay 12 years ago.

The court also said the DENR "has not been remiss" in its duty to report the works of the concerned government agencies in compliance with the continuing mandamus.

It said the dolomite beach project came from the DENR's own beach nourishment program and not the writ, meaning it was not an activity that could be "objectively measured as a deviation" from what the order mandated the government to do.

"The contention is bred only when the alleged hazardous potential of the component dolomite enters the picture, whereby it becomes clear that the bone of contention all along is not the project per se but the material used to carry it out," the SC PIO said.

What Akbayan did, it said, was challenge "the wisdom behind the use of the component dolomite" -- a "factual issue" that the highest Philippine court does not ordinarily resolve.

"It is a challenge that properly lies in the realm of political questions which the Court may not venture into even incidentally in a contempt proceeding under the given circumstances," the SC PIO said.

It did not mention how the court voted, only that Justice Marvic Leonen wrote a separate opinion.

A copy of the resolution was not immediately available. — RSJ, GMA News