“Why are they putting purely aesthetic program first in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay? Who is this program for? Does the DENR not know that they are destroying the coasts?” marine conversation group Oceana Philippines said yesterday in a statement.
The government agency caught the public’s attention when pictures and videos of what looked liked “white sands” and “sand dunes” within the bay’s vicinity surfaced online.
A dolomite is a sedimentary rock that has color ranges of white-to-gray and white-to-light brown. It is used for construction materials and has the ability to neutralize acids.
Antiporda said that the initiative is for people who cannot go to Boracay or other tourist destinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Boracay, the country’s top tourist destination, is internationally recognized for its pristine beaches with fine white sands.
Antiporda said they were inspired by the white sand beaches of Boracay and Palawan and that it was done for people who could not afford to go to those tourist spots. He admitted in an interview with cable channel ANC that he was unaware of the amount of money used for the synthetic sand and that it was impossible to divert the funds to aid Filipinos during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is not a new project. We cannot connect this with the pandemic… maybe if this was just cash that we could juggle from one place to another, the government could do that. But this is not possible. That is prohibited,” Antiporda said in English and Filipino.
But both the Cebu provincial board and the Cebu City Council say they never issued permits to mine dolomites in their areas for the Manila Bay project
The controversy started when social media lit up after concerned netizens reported white sand being dumped in Manila Bay to enhance the view along the baywalk.
Advocacy group Oceana Philippines also called out the project saying that it may harm the natural ecosystem and coastal integrity of Manila Bay.