House should immediately probe dolomite gaffe or let Duterte’s remaining public support to be washed away – Anakpawis

House should immediately probe dolomite gaffe or let Duterte’s remaining public support to be washed away – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – The Anakpawis Party-list urged the House of Representatives to immediately dig into the P389-million dump-filling of dolomite crushed boulders into the Manila Bay at the coast of Malate, Manila, or it would only add to the crumbling of the remaining public support President Rodrigo Duterte enjoys at present. It is apparent that this gaffe is a brainchild of those at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as many government units and agencies claim disapproval. Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Eufemia Cullamat and lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 1194 amid people’s opposition, raising its impact to the environment and hazard to public health and injudicious utilization of public funds.

“We can’t even label it as sand, as it is actually crushed boulders of dolomite, processed to make it appear like white sand. Amid no adequate scientific study, the DENR, who is supposed to be the lead in the Manila Bay rehabilitation, contaminated the bay with a foreign rock-forming mineral. The house leadership should immediately take on this issue or public denunciation would eventually reach the office of the president,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, former representative of the Anakpawis Party-list said in a press statement.

The said resolution cited DENR’s Undersecretary Benny Antiporda’s early statements justifying the project.

“Antiporda’s blabber is actually unbecoming of an official from the DENR, but a pretension of being with the Department of Tourism. He’s more into decorating Manila Bay as Boracay, and even like a traditional politician addicted to beautification projects requiring infinite allotment of funds. He never cited any scientific basis assuring that dolomite is not harmful to the marine ecosystem, and worse, it was exempted from the environmental impact assessment (EIA) via the certificate of non-coverage,” the former lawmaker said.

He added that DENR officials involved with the issuance of certificate of non-coverage should prepare themselves for a battery of criticisms, when the very technical definition of the Environmental Critical Areas or ECA that requires EIA under the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System or Presidential Decree 1586, include areas frequently visited or hard-hit by natural calamities such as flood-prone areas.

“Is the DENR that ignorant of the publicly known fact that Manila Bay is a site for high tides and storm surges? This is on top that the Supreme Court mandamus main points are to clean up, rehabilitate, ‘preserve’ and restore the waters to be fit for recreation,” he cited.

The Supreme Court mandamus clearly stated “to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level (Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34 [1990]) to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”

Casilao stressed that the main idea of rehabilitation is the restoring the polluted waters of Manila Bay, and not beautifying the baywalk for tourism. He slammed that the agency is even failing to act against reclamation projects that would obviously destroy the marine ecosystem of Manila Bay. The mandamus also stated: “the DA, through the BFAR, is ordered to improve and restore the marine life of the Manila Bay. It is also directed to assist the LGUs in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, and Bataan in developing, using recognized methods, the fisheries and aquatic resources in the Manila Bay.”

The latest development in Manila Bay involved the washing away of dolomite, brought about by heavy rains and the fish kill in Baseco, Manila. The former lawmaker stressed that the agency was clearly caught off-guard by the fish kill as it was busy with “beautification.”

“It is clear that the DENR failed to prevent the latest fish kill and it was busy with the dolomite. This is another incompetence of supposedly enforcing the Supreme Court mandamus to improve and restore marine life. By the day, the project is exposed as a full-blown gaffe courtesy of the DENR, and if this remained unaddressed, it would further isolate Duterte from the broad public,” he ended. ###

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