DENR: White sand along Manila Bay will discourage people from throwing trashBy LLANESCA T. PANTI, GMA News
Putting synthetic white sand alongside Manila Bay coastline will discourage people from littering and throwing trash in the water, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said Friday.
Antiporda made the justification after the effort to bring white sand—made from crushed dolomite boulders shipped from Cebu province—drew flak from the public for being done amid the COVID-19 pandemic when the resources could have been given to sectors badly needing aid.
“If you are going to look at it, pag may kulay puti po, ayaw nating marumihan ito,” Antiporda said in an Unang Balita interview.
“Information campaign rin po ito na kailangan pangalagaan ang Manila Bay, na huwag natin itong dumihan. Tuloy tuloy po ang paglilinis natin, but sad to say, may mga pasaway pa rin po na nagkakalat diyan ng basura, nagtatapon sa dagat,” he added.
As for funding, the DENR official said that such white sand initiative is part of the P389 million Manila Bay beach nourishment project.
“Mga dalawang taon na po mula nang nagsimula ito, nung desilting, nung ating tanggalin ang mga burak sa ilalim, linisin iyong buong dagat. May mga gulong pa sa ilalim na narecover, natanggal na po ito at nilagyan na po ng buhangin. Supposedly black sand po iyan, naging white sand po,” Antiporda pointed out.
“Itong beach nourishment project, hindi po white sand ang kabuuan. At there is engineering intervention in place so the sand can withstand strong current, strong waves coming from the sea,” he added.
He said the beach nourishment project, which included operation of a sewage treatment plant, has already drastically improved water quality in Manila Bay from having 1.3 billion of coliform per 100 milliliter of water to 700 coliform per 100 milliliter of water.
“Ang target po is 200 coliform per 100 milliliter by the end of the year para maging safe po ito sa ating mga kababayan sakali pong lumangoy sila diyan,” Antiporda said.
He also brushed aside warnings from environmental groups that such an initiative might disrupt the ecosystem of the sea, saying that crushed dolomite boulders will not harm marine life.
“They should also have an in-depth study before coming up with opinion. Iyong crushed dolomite boulders po, may calcium carbonate, at ganoon rin po ang content ng sea coral, kaya huwag po sila masyado negatibo,” he said.
“Kahit na po may pandemic, positive po ang pananaw ng aming Kalihim Roy Cimatu. Dahil po rito, inumpisahan po nating linisin ito at ngayon ay nagkakaroon na ng buhay. We are on target,” Antiporda said.
Antiporda, however, conceded that Manila Bay is not safe for swimming just yet.
“Hindi po pa puwede kasi iaayos po natin ang coliform level ng tubig para masigurado na safe na languyan,” he said.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque echoed the DENR’s justification for the project.
“Per the DENR, the report that ‘white sand’ is being used to fill the stretch of the baywalk is erroneous. DENR added 'crushed dolomite boulders' would be utilized for the aforesaid project,” he said in a statement.
“This forms part of the cleaning up of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program with an allocated budget, which began even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Roque added.—Virgil Lopez/AOL, GMA News