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Ex-general to oversee dolomite beach after crowding causes uproar

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Ex-general to oversee dolomite beach after crowding causes uproar
Crowds gather as families spend quality time while waiting for the famous Manila Bay sunset at the Manila Dolomite Beach during its 2nd day opening on Sunday (October 17, 2021).
The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Environment chief Roy Cimatu on Wednesday announced the relief of the ground commander of the government’s Manila Bay Task Force as the department investigates crowding at the artificial white sand beach, one of the few public spaces in Metro Manila.

The relief of Jacob Meimban, also the executive director of the Manila Bay Coordinating Office, will pave the way for the "honest to goodness" probe into the surges of visitors to the dolomite beach area, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said in a briefing.

Meimban will be replaced by retired Army general Reuel Sorilla, who leads the environment department’s Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service.

"We have plans. We anticipated it but the number of visitors still exceeded… That’s why I selected a retired general because the issue here is enforcement," said Cimatu, also a military officer.

"We’re not making him (Meimban) a sacrificial [lamb]. He already said that being the commander, he takes full responsibility for what happened," he added.

On October 24, Sunday, the number of people who went to the artificial beach reached 121,744, raising concerns on compliance with health protocols set by the government.

In a statement on Wednesday, fishers’ group Pamalakaya said that aside from holding DENR officials accountable, the dolomite beach should be shut down for good.

"We demand for the shutdown of this dolomite beach that cost us hundreds of millions yet completely irrelevant to the Manila Bay rehabilitation program," Pamalakaya national spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo said. 

To prevent another crowding, the DENR will implement several changes such as limiting the number of visitors there and banning children aged 11 and below.

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DOLOMITE BEACH MANILA BAY REHABILITATION PROGRAM
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