Philippines: Realign dolomite sand funds to Covid-19 response, scientists urge

Heavy equipment dump fresh dolomite sand at “Dolomite Beach” along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. The Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN

MANILA, April 26 (Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN): A group of scientists, engineers and researchers renewed their call to stop the dumping of crushed dolomite rocks along the shoreline of Manila Bay, and instead realign the funds allocated for the project to the government’s pandemic response.

In a statement, the Agham – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People - said the beach nourishment project should be stopped while the government studies its environmental implications on the bay and its ecosystem.

The group said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has continued to ignore the calls of the scientific community to halt and review the project.

“DENR’s action is completely lacking in scientific integrity. Competent scientists are more than willing to participate in a genuine Manila Bay rehabilitation plan, but the DENR (has been) ignoring our pleas,” the group said.

Agham scored the recent dumping of a fresh layer of crushed dolomite rocks along the shore of Manila Bay earlier this month.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia confirmed that the shipment, which contained 8,600 cubic meters of dolomite sand and 6,600 cubic meters of dolomite pebbles, came from the mountains in Alcoy town in the southern part of the province.

“DENR, the agency that is supposed to implement the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system, is violating its own policies by failing to produce one for this project... The agency has yet to produce a research study on the environmental impact of introducing foreign materials in a vulnerable ecosystem like Manila Bay,” Agham said, adding that there was also no public consultation for the project.

The group said the DENR should review its ambitious rehabilitation plan for Manila Bay, which has been earmarked P389 million. From this amount, P28 million is allocated for the beach nourishment project.

“In the absence of an EIS, the DENR should just rechannel the funds for Covid-19 assistance to the most heavily affected by the pandemic,” Agham said.

Scientists and environment groups have repeatedly assailed the dolomite project, which began late last year, saying that it was unsustainable and does not address the underlying environmental problems in the heavily polluted bay.

The DENR had not responded to requests for comment on Agham’s claims, at press time, but it earlier said the beach nourishment was being undertaken precisely to protect the bay’s coastal resources and prevent coastal flooding, erosion, and pollution. - Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN
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