Senate probe sought on Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project

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Credit: Harold Paras, Cris Salvador/ CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — Senator Leila de Lima wants a probe into the controversial ₱389-million beautification project in Manila Bay, which critics said was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In a statement issued Saturday, De Lima said she filed Senate Bill 532, asking the Senate to investigate the overlaying of crushed dolomite along the Manila Bay shoreline.

The lawmaker noted the funds for the “white sand” project“ could have been used to feed 5.2 million hungry families because of the pandemic, or allotted for healthcare by way of COVID-19 government response instead.

“The makeover of Manila Bay shows that this administration’s priorities lean towards cosmetic beautification rather than health, economic aid, or education. Now is the opportune time to conduct this investigation as we are nearing fiscal year 2021 deliberations in Congress,” she added.

Environment advocate Oceana Philippines previously said the overlaying of dolomite is a "total waste of taxpayers' money" since rains will just wash away the synthetic sand. But the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has said it has put in place "interventions" to avoid that from happening. 

Experts from the University of the Philippines have warned that the use of the ‘white sand’— a project in line with the bay’s rehabilitation program — may pose health risks and threats to the marine environment.

The Health Department earlier said that the dolomite dumped along the stretch in Roxas Boulevard cannot cause adverse health effects, since it is not small enough to be inhaled.

The Environment Department has also published a report showing the dolomite sand in Manila Bay is not classified as hazardous, as tests done on its samples did not exceed the limits set in the agency’s Revised Procedures and Standards for the Management of Hazardous Wastes.