Pro-environment and civic society groups that are opposed to Manila Bay’s white beach project have asked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to publicize documents of the project.
In a letter dated September 14, Akbayan! Youth – Taft, De La Salle Environmental Conservation Organization, University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Biological Society, Alyansa Tigil Mina, and Oceana Philippines, they wrote Cimatu and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
The groups formed the #SaveManilaBay alliance which also sent their position paper to the officials on the white sand beach project.
In their position paper, they tackled the environmental, medical, and legal-political effects of dumping crushed dolomite in Manila Bay as valid reasons to suspend the project and rechannel the funds earmarked for its implementation to alternative uses that are deemed more beneficial.
“The environmental, medical, and even legal impacts of the white sand dumping project are not just abominable in themselves; they also set a harmful precedent on how we ought to treat human life, local biodiversity, and the natural habitats in which they live,” it read.
SaveManilaBay alliance released their position paper amid DENR’s claim that “blind critics” have vilified its efforts to give Manila Bay a makeover.
The department is tasked to clean up the bay as part of its rehabilitation program.
“The DENR can’t claim that we’re blind critics because our position is based on data and analysis,” Akbayan! Youth – Taft, the convening organization of the alliance, said in a Facebook post.
“Meanwhile, white sand (as) being good for mental health and pro-environment behavior is completely (unsupported),” the group added.
Apart from the public disclosure of the documents, the alliance asked the DENR to implement following:
- Reallocate unutilized project funds to the COVID-19 response program
- Defund or reverse all local and national reclamation projects harmful to biodiversity
- Consult or grant leadership positions to environmental defenders and community stakeholders
- Plant mangroves and seagrass
- Ensure medical and financial assistance to workers and community stakeholders affected by the dolomite
- Monitor the implementation of the Cease and Desist order of mining companies
“As an environmental group, we are seeing before us how the natural world has become a victim to meaningless projects not rooted upon scientific theory or fact. And where there is a victim, there is a perpetrator. And when the perpetrator is our own government, how then can we stay silent?” said Javier Vilchez of UP MBS said.