Environment groups criticized the Duterte administration’s latest move as part of its ongoing rehabilitation efforts in the Manila Bay. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started filling the Manila baywalk with synthetic white sand made from crushed dolomite boulders in Cebu.

Fisherfolk PAMALAKAYA said the project addresses only the aesthetic aspect and not the real environmental issues in Manila Bay. “No amount of white sand and external beauty can restore Manila Bay if such destructive projects are going through,” the group said, citing the reclamation projects that the DENR has approved.

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment also urged Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso to stop the project as it can affect the marine conservation areas near Manila Bay. The group said that the bay’s waters can be used as a conservation area for sardine species Sardinella Pacifica.

Oceana Philippines, meanwhile, explained that the project may harm Manila Bay as white sand is not its natural feature. “This will be a total waste of people’s money,” Oceana Vice President Gloria Ramos said, adding that the country’s priority should be responding to the ongoing pandemic. University of the Philippines Resilience Institute Executive Director Mahar Lagmay added that the white sand might just be washed out soon.

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