MANILA, Philippines - Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza admitted on Thursday that he had a wave deflector structure along Manila Bay lowered because it interfered with the area's scenic view.
Atienza, a former environment secretary, told radio dzMM that he had the structure lowered sometime in 1998 and 1999 after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) raised it by almost 1 and 1/2 meters.
During his term as Manila mayor, Atienza transformed the city's coastal baywalk into a top tourist spot.
"Wala na tayong makitang tubig, wala na tayong makitang sunset, wala na tayong malanghap na simoy ng hangin," he said.
"Masyadong itinaas... I cannot understand it. It was a wrong decision on the part of the DPWH kaya ibinaba namin," he added.
Atienza, however, clarified that he had the structure lowered to its original level. "Pero pagkakababa namin, iyung original structure [level ang] ginamit namin, iyung original bench... seawall."
"I am supposing matibay iyan [original structure] because it stood time," he said. "Kaya lang iba na ang panahon ngayon because of climate change."
A storm surge hammered Manila Bay's coastline during the onslaught of Typhoon Pedring on Tuesday, causing portions of the seawall to collapse.
Seawater then flooded Roxas Boulevard and nearby areas including the US embassy, the Mall of Asia baywalk, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Mabini, Ermita, Kalaw, Taft Avenue, and Ayala Boulevard.
Atienza believes that erosion and rising sea levels brought about by global warming caused the seawall and the wave deflector to fail during the storm surge.
"Mababang-mababa na iyan. Together with the boulders of the seawall... kinain na ng kinain ng tubig, atsaka lumubog na ng lumubog. Ang ilalim din naman niyan, buhangin," he said.
Atienza said he supports the extension of the breakwater just off the coast, as proposed by the DPWH.