Duterte: Dolomite beach to be replenished until better solution found

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Duterte: Dolomite beach to be replenished until better solution found
A bulldozer is seen working on the "white sand"—actually crushed dolomite rocks—poured along the shoreline of Manila Bay on September 6, 2020.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that the artificial white sand beach made from crushed dolomite rocks needs regular replenishment until the government thinks of a better solution to Manila Bay’s environmental problems.

In his final State of the Nation Address, Duterte called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to sustain efforts in restoring the heavily polluted Manila Bay “to its former glory.”

The chief executive also mentioned the use of artificial sand and stressed the need to replenish it when it gets washed out.

“Sometimes it disappears because of the waves. Every now and then, we still have to replenish because we cannot change the nature of our shores. It is how it is. It is not a permanent fixture there,” Duterte said.

“The only way to do it is to replenish it until we can think of a good alternative of how we can process the whole things back to its normal state,” he added.

Last year, the DENR undertook a beach nourishment project using crushed dolomite rocks to help rehabilitate and protect coastal resources as well as to prevent erosion.

The estimated cost of the project was P389 million, around P28 million of which was allotted for the overlaying of the fake white sand on a stretch of Manila Bay’s shoreline.

'Expensive, temporary effort'

The use of pulverized dolomite rocks has been met with criticism, with environmental groups and scientists saying the project is an expensive and temporary effort that will not address the bay’s environmental problems.

They said the solutions to the degradation of Manila Bay include addressing the issue of solid waste management, and restoring mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

In a statement Monday, the DENR said the dolomite area as well the geotubes and geotextiles installed as geo interventions for the project are “intact.”

“The dolomite area has not been washed out and the dolomite pebbles were only pushed to the perimeter of the beach,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

No mention of climate action

Duterte also talked about some wins in the government’s effort to rehabilitate Manila Bay such as the move to close down hundreds of open dump sites near the area and the reduction of the bay’s fecal coliform level.

He also hoped that “our next leaders and future generation will not squander our natural resources and fight for the integrity of our environment in a manner fiercer and more effective than my administration has ever done.”

But in a SONA that lasted for almost three hours, the longest since 1986, the chief executive made no mention of other concrete actions to protect the environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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