Really necessary?
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - September 7, 2020 - 12:00am

Is it really necessary to beautify a portion of the Manila Bay during this time of pandemic? This is the question many are asking in light of the DENR's current "beautification" project. Tons of "white sand" is being dumped on a 500-meter stretch of the baywalk at the bay, all for beautifying the place. The cost of the project? A whopping P389 million pesos. Surely those waiting for the next round of assistance from the government are scratching their heads or are seething in anger at such an unnecessary venture. In fact, the white sand isn't exactly sand but crushed dolomite down to a fine grain. We have our share of fake news, now we have fake sand.

The origin of the dolomite is being investigated because it allegedly came from somewhere in Cebu but the DENR apparently did not coordinate or ask permission from the local government. They were surprised to hear the news. They feel robbed because they did not bet anything in return for the mined dolomite. But the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Visayas issued a permit to mine and transport 3,005 wet metric tons of dolomite from Alcoy, Cebu, to Manila. Obviously when the central government speaks, no more questions.

Some environmental experts criticize the project because of the supposedly harmful effects on the environment. And because strong typhoons often hit Manila Bay, the artificial coastline will simply be eroded by the strong waves and storm surges not uncommon to Manila Bay, not to mention the tons of garbage from all over the bay that washes up on the seawall. According to the DENR, the sand will be one meter thick and geotubes will be placed to minimize erosion. In other words, the DENR is expecting some erosion to happen. With that in mind, they will surely be topping off the "beach" every time a typhoon hits. As to how much that will cost every time is anyone's guess. Dolomite is also said to be harmful to the ecosystem since they contain small amounts of mercury. I wonder if the DENR even accounted for that. They did say crushed dolomite was being used in Taiwan and Japan and locally in Misamis Oriental, Pasig City, Davao City, and other parts in Cebu. As I said, when the central government speaks, the discussion is over.

Of all the reasons for objecting to the project, what is unacceptable for me is the cost. Hundreds of millions of pesos just to beautify the place? How much will it cost for its upkeep? It definitely is not a permanent fix. There are also the usual questions about actual cost and declared ones, saying the project could be overpriced by more than fifty percent. I'm all for making the country a beautiful place but I believe there is a proper time and a place to do that. Now is not the time and I question the place.

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