âWill this rehabilitate Manila Bay?â groups ask of breakwater to protect dolomite
Sandbags were placed along the artificial white sand beach along Manila Bay amid the ongoing rehabilitation of the natural harbor by the DENR in this undated photo.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
‘Will this rehabilitate Manila Bay?’ groups ask of breakwater to protect dolomite
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - October 30, 2020 - 11:32am

MANILA, Philippines — Fishers and environment groups questioned a proposal to build a breakwater to protect the artificial white sand beach along Manila Bay’s shoreline, saying the move is geared towards beautifying, not rehabilitating, the degraded harbor.

Fishers group PAMALAKAYA said that while a breakwater may be able to hold some of the dolomite sand, this does not guarantee that it will effectively impede water flow and prevent the crushed dolomite rocks from being washed out.

“This plan is a 180-degree turn to the ultimate goal of Manila Bay rehabilitation. It is a government’s manifestation that they are leaning toward beautification, and abandoning their supposed mandate to restore its marine ecosystem,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson, said in a statement.

Lawyer Gloria Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, said the installation of a breakwater also needs a thorough environmental impact assessment.

“Is this a case of protecting the dolomite project not Manila Bay?” Ramos told Philstar.com.

In 2008, the Supreme Court, through a mandamus, directed government agencies to “clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters.”

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel Thursday that the rehabilation does not only focus on the baywalk.

“We are addressing different tributaries, river systems, settlements in order to address the problem of Manila Bay,” he said.

Breakwater and geotubes

In the same interview, Leones said that the Department of Public Works and Highways will build a breakwater to ensure that the pulverized dolomite rocks used as artificial white will not be washed away by strong waves.

“The DPWH — as we have been informed — to ensure the beach will be there and will not be destroyed by strong current, they plan to put a breakwater in the area,” he said.

This is on top of the geotubes—“durable” plastic bags filled with sand placed along the perimeter—already installed to withstand storm damage and provide stability to the P28-million beautification project.

Earlier in October, Leones said in a briefing that the use of geotextile tube system is more economical than the traditional method of constructing a breakwater.

‘Expensive, inflexible’ infra

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said the government will waste funds on “expensive and inflexible” infrastructure that will not adapt to the exponential impacts of climate change such as stronger cyclones and rising seas.

“Generally, ‘grey’ infrastructure that are not designed to support coastal greenbelting as the main coastal defense strategy will not be sustainable. We have seen Manila Baywalk’s existing breakwaters sundered by typhoons and storm surges over the past decade,” Leon Dulce, Kalikasan PNE national coordinator, said.

He once again called for an independent public investigation into the beach nourishment project.

PAMALAKAYA also said the installation of breakwater, which it said is a “troubleshooting” measure, shows the lack of research and planning of the government project.

“But sure the government can troubleshoot all they want, and they will still miss what Manila Bay really needs. Thus a waste of funds, one after another,” Hicap said.

MANILA BAY MANILA BAY REHABILITATION PROGRAM
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