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DENR: No more funds for 'dolomite beach' under proposed 2022 Manila Bay rehab budget

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) did not include the so-called dolomite beach project in its 2022 budget proposal for Manila Bay's rehabilitation, an official said Wednesday.

Interviewed on ANC, DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the P1.6 billion proposed funds for the rehabilitation program will go to the rehabilitation of different river systems connected to Manila Bay.

“The P1.6 billion will comprise not for the dolomite, because budget for dolomite was already given to us during 2020 and 2019,” he said.

Leones said the funds will also be used for the cleanup of creeks and esteros.

Critics have slammed the government for constructing the P389-million dolomite artificial beach amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environmentalists said covering the area with crushed dolomite to give it a "white sand" appearance would pose a health hazard and would not actually rehabilitate Manila Bay.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Sonny Batungbacal pointed out that pouring white sand does not resolve the pollution in the bay.

Fisherfolk groups’ alliance PAMALAKAYA called the project an “artificial rehabilitation” that focused on aesthetics rather than addressing the environmental degradation problems in the area.

Ocean conservation organization Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos asked the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR to step in to the project.

The DENR said the project was approved by Congress in 2019 and went through competitive bidding.

It added that dolomite is "not detrimental to the ecosystems of Manila Bay." It also said Crushed dolomite "does not pose a threat to human health because it is not inhalable." —Joviland Rita/KBK, GMA News