Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday proposed using the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) funds for its controversial Manila Bay "white sands" project and the National Greening Program (NGP) to replace trees that could be chopped down at Nayong Pilipino for the construction of a COVID-19 mega vaccination site.
In a statement, Recto said that the 2021 national budget allots P3.158 billion to the NGP—good for 44.6 million seedlings—and P1.553 billion to the Manila Bay beach project, which uses crushed dolomite for the sand.
Recto said these funds could replace the trees at the Nayong Pilipino property in Parañaque City should they be cut down to make way for the proposed vaccination center.
“Sa bawat Ipil-Ipil na pinutol sa lote ng Nayong Pilipino, kayang-kayang pondohan ang 100 na kapalit. Pwede ngang isang milyong puno, o isa sa bawat Pilipinong tinamaan ng COVID. Ang punto ko, mayroong compensation fund kung kakailanganin,” Recto said in a statement.
[For each Ipil-ipil that will be chopped down at the Nayong Pilipino site, the government can fund 100 trees to replace it. The government can fund even a million trees or one tree for each Filipino who got COVID-19. My point here is we have compensation fund if it is needed.]
“The [Nayong Pilipino Foundation] property is the rally point of a massive counterattack against the deadly virus. Let it be the staging area of the science that will defeat the pandemic and save us all,” he added.
Recto expressed support for the construction of the vaccination facility.
“On a per square meter basis, the property will benefit thousands of people. It is a social project that packs enough 'goodwill density' to justify the lot being used to meet a public emergency,” he said.
“Yes, the trees there serve as urban lungs. But what also cannot be denied is that the lifesaving facility that will be built serves the same purpose, to protect people from getting COVID so they won’t be gasping for air on the driveways of overwhelmed hospitals,” he added.
Apart from Recto, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday expressed support for the construction of the COVID-19 vaccination facility.
On Sunday, vaccine czar SecretaryCarlito Galvez Jr. called on the board of the NPF to approve the construction of the planned mega vaccination site.
Galvez said the NPF Board of Trustees (NPFBT) has yet to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 for the construction of the mega vaccination site at the Nayong Pilipino.
The NPFBT expressed apprehension about the plan, saying some 500 trees would have to be cut down to make space for the project.
The construction of the vaccination center will be shouldered by the Razon’s ICTSI Foundation, with Felino "Jun" Palafox as the architect.
On Tuesday, Malacañang said the planned mega COVID-19 vaccination center would only be temporary. — BM, GMA News