President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night defended the multimillion-peso project that dumped crushed dolomite on a portion of Manila Bay, saying the result is beautiful.
"Dolomite is beautiful to the eyes, period. 'Wag ka na magtanong kasi hindi naman ninyo kaya kung kayo," Duterte said in his second public address this week.
[Don't ask about it anymore because you wouldn't have been able to do it if it had been you.]
"You had your chance, actually. For so many years, you had every chance to do it. Was there anybody willing to take the problem by its horns? Si Cimatu lang [only Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu]," he added.
As part of its P389-million Manila Bay rehabilitation program, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last year began placing tons of sand—made from crushed dolomite boulders shipped from Cebu province—over a small stretch of the bay’s shoreline.
Cimatu, who was presenting the DENR's accomplishments during the televised briefing, claimed that the dolomite sand prevents coastal erosion, filters water and increases beach width.
"It is considered a beach nourishment kasi malaking bagay ang nagagawa niya diyan. Nililinis niya 'yong, na-prevent niya rin ang erosion at tsaka 'yong mga luwag ng beach ay napaluwagan nito," he said.
The artificial white sand gets washed away when heavy rains hit the city, with Duterte saying the beach needs to be replenished as a result.
During storms, the beach also becomes littered with trash that washes onto shore, which Cimatu has blamed on the public while claiming there is nothing wrong with the beach's design.
The DENR earlier said the beach project would also discourage people from littering.
The project has been criticized by various sectors, with environmental and fishing groups calling it a "cover-up" of the bay's pollution problem.
A group of scientists said the government is “literally throwing money into the sea” as these funds could have been used for the improvement of hospital facilities, vaccine procurement, and financial assistance to pandemic-hit Filipinos.
Biologists from the University of the Philippines also objected to the project, saying that rehabilitating the mangroves in the area instead of covering the bay's shoreline with dolomite would have been "cheaper and more cost-effective,” as well as contributing to biodiversity conservation. — BM, GMA News