Former Manila Mayor and current Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza said the white sand project to beautify Manila Bay is “worthless” and “a complete waste of public funds.”
Atienza, who also served as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, opposed DENR’s project to fill the Manila Bay shoreline with crushed dolomite rocks from Cebu.
“No amount of pretentious face-lifting can change the fact that Manila Bay’s marine and coastal ecosystems are practically dead – because its waters have been overwhelmed by fecal coliform,” Atienza added.
The lawmaker noted that a large percentage of human wastes from Metro Manila households still drain into the Pasig River and go to Manila Bay daily.
“Anybody who swims in the bay’s heavily contaminated waters risks exposure to waterborne pathogenic diseases, including viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, hepatitis A, dysentery, typhoid fever and all sorts of infections,” he said.
The white sand beautification project was part of the government’s Manila Bay Coastal Management Strategy. However, former Manila mayor said it is “bound to fail” because of Maynilad and Manila Water’s negligence to fix their sewage and wastewater treatment facilities in their areas.
White sand Manila Bay a complete waste, worthless – Atienza
When Atienza was serving as DENR chief in 2009, he released an order penalizing Maynilad and Manila Water for violating Section 8 of the Clean Water Act of 2004 on domestic sewage collection, treatment, and disposal.
In August 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the two water concessionaires to pay massive fines together with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System for their non-compliance with the Clean Water Act, stemming from the 2009 DENR order.
Last week, current Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu defended the white sand project in Manila Bay, saying using crushed dolomites was nothing new.
He said many resorts, such as those in Mactan, Cebu are also using crushed dolomites for decorative purposes.
Cimatu also argued the dolomite rocks could even treat the pH level of water, such is Manila Bay, turning it to alkaline from acidic.