AT least 10 environmental and cause-oriented groups on Wednesday called for an investigation into the controversial “beach nourishment” project at a portion of Manila Bay’s shoreline.
The call for the probe was contained in a position paper sent to Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona, and the Senate and House of Representatives, in the exercise of their oversight powers and the Office of the Ombudsman.
The group also prodded Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Manila and Chairman Rene Escalante of the National Historical Commission (NHC) to investigate the violations committed by the proponents of the project.
In the position paper, entitled “DENR’s Dumping of Crushed Dolomite Boulders in Manila Bay,” groups that include Oceana, Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, Environmental Legal Assistance Center Phil. Earth Justice Center Inc. Archdiocese of Manila-Ministry on Ecology Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera, Chief Mangrove Scientific Advisor of Zoological Society of London, Integrated Rural Development Foundation, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Tambuyog Development Center, and Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama (PaNaGat) Network expressed alarm the P398-million Manila Bay “beautification project” is being implemented without compliance with national laws amid the pandemic and climate crisis.
The dumping of dolomite, they alleged, would create adverse environmental impacts, such as aquatic pollution, marine habitat degradation, loss of a globally important water bird site, loss of sardine spawning grounds, and the loss of mangroves and wetland areas.
They pointed out that Manila Bay waterfront was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 2012, and hence, it is protected by the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The law mandates that the bay “shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute.”
They said Manila Bay is also a key biodiversity area identified by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.