Following the Supreme Court’s (SC) dismissal of Akbayan’s legal challenge to hold the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in contempt for dumping dolomite sand in Manila Bay, the progressive group’s Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales lamented the judicial body’s hands-off approach.

“It lost the opportunity to protect the rights of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology,” said Rosales.

“The SC has taken, quite sadly, a hands-off approach on an issue of transcendental importance. By denying our motion… it failed to help the public determine the safeness and sustainability of DENR’s dolomite sand dumping along the Manila Bay,” the activist leader added.

In September, Akbayan filed a motion urging the SC to cite the DENR in contempt over the dumping of crushed dolomite along Manila Bay.

Rosales, along with Akbayan Youth Chairman Dr. RJ Naguit and Akbayan-Manila Youth Leader Rafaela David, asked the High Tribunal to declare the dumping as a direct violation of its continuing mandamus judgment in 2008 ordering the DENR and other relevant agencies to protect and clean Manila Bay.

In response, the SC said that the contention on the beautification project in the use of dolomite is “a factual issue not ordinarily entertained by the Court.”

It added that the SC is not a trier of facts and noted that the legal challenge is a political question “which the Court may not venture into.”

The SC said that the DENR’s beautification project is not within the scope of the mandamus because “the specific directive is simply to clean the waters of the bay and perform maintenance measures to keep it within the legal standards of cleanliness fit for recreation.”

“It failed to include in its assessment the DENR’s dumping of fake sand as a polluting act violative of its order. The opinion of experts throughout the scientific community has repeatedly expressed the hazards, both in the short and long term, of the dolomite project. The public would do well to listen to their advice,” Rosales added.

The dolomite sand, which was procured by the DENR for approximately P28 million, has been receding as it is washed off from the shore.

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