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Palace says funds for Manila Bay 'white sand' project can't be realigned for pandemic

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace says funds for Manila Bay 'white sand' project can't be realigned for pandemic
Boracay in Manila: A man takes a selfie with the ‘white sand’ beach in Manila’s Baywalk in the background, joining other people observing work on the controversial project from a pedestrian overpass on Roxas Boulevard over the weekend.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Despite views by some experts that the controversial white sand project won't solve Manila Bay's environmental woes, Malacañang said the funds for the rehabilitation program could no longer be realigned to other items.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute has described as "costly" and "temporary" the P389-million project, which involves topping a 500-meter stretch of Manila Bay's shorelines with artificial white sand.

The use of crushed dolomite rocks could not serve to anchor the loss of beach sand nor replace eroded sediments, the institute said. Dolomite sand grains, the institute said, would erode given the hydrodynamic conditions in coastal Metro Manila during storms. Continuously replacing the sand would be expensive and would not help improve the water quality in the bay, it added.

The Duterte administration, however, maintained that the project should be completed.

"It has started so it has to be completed," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.

"The realignment of funds applies to projects that have not started," he added.

Roque said the budget for the project is not just for beach nourishment but for the entire rehabilitation program of Manila Bay. He also disputed notions that the project is ill-timed because it is being implemented during a pandemic.

"As I said, this project was proposed two years ago, included in last year's (sic) budget and only being implemented now," he added.

The Manila Bay project, which officials claimed would help control floods and prevent soil erosion, is part of this year's budget.

President Rodrigo Duterte has praised the environment department over the project, saying people are now enjoying the white sand. Critics of the project, however, insist that its budget should have been used for prograls related to COVID-19 response. Some groups also claim that exposure to the white sand can cause problems in the skin, lungs and eyes.

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2019 N-COV

MANILA BAY REHABILITATION

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