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Manila Bay white sand project may be stopped if proven harmful, says Año

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said the plan to cover the Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard with white sand could be stopped if proven that it is harmful for the public.

Año told CNN Philippines that government officials had an initial discussion on the supposed threat of dolomite rock, the material which will be used to adorn the Manila Bay coastline, to a person's health.

"Based on the presentation of Secretary Cimatu and of course there will be more discussion on this. But based on what we have learned, talagang hindi na 'to siya harmful ano, but I leave it to the experts," he said.

"We'll have more discussion on this and we'd like also to get the side of the [Department of Health] kung ma-prove talaga nila na harmful and kung talagang maging harmful pa rin talaga 'yan, then we can put a stop but for now I'm inclined to support really the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources]," he added.

The DENR is planning to fill 500 meters of the Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard with white sand under the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program.

“Gagawin white sand itong, dito sa may bay walk area para makita ng tao na kapag puti ang kulay ng isang bagay, kailangan pangalagaan mo ito at ‘wag mo dumihan,” DENR undersecretary Benny Antiporda had said.

This plan was criticized by environmentalists and fisherfolk groups, saying that pouring white sand does not resolve the pollution in the bay.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier warned that the inhalation of crushed dolomite rock could result in respiratory problems.

Vergeire still said it is for the DENR to say if such an initiative is a sound move amid the COVID-19 pandemic. -NB, GMA News