'They know it better': Isko backs DENR on dumping synthetic white sand on Manila Bay baywalk

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2020 06:15 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2020 12:56 AM

Workers spread white sand along a portion of the Baywalk in Manila Bay on September 3, 2020 as part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program by the DENR. The white sand, which comes from Cebu, will be spread from the banks of the bay near the US Embassy to the Yacht Club. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagaso on Friday said he would not oppose the dumping of synthetic white sand on the capital city's baywalk, owing to the expertise of the environment department. 

“Kaya ‘yung (so, the) development, we continue to support and we will continue to do our part as local government unit not only because there is a mandamus case, because the people of Manila deserves better things from its government," the city mayor said in a press conference.

"Kung sakali naman na mapatunayan na ang mga nilagay na ito (synthetic white sand) ay makapaminsala (If proven that the synthetic white sand is destructive), I think DENR knows it better than me," he added.

Moreno said that the said agency, mandated to protect the environment, will not be responsible for polluting the nature. 

“It is not up for me to identify scientifically na ito’y nakakasira ng kalikasan (that it is destructive to the environment). I think DENR on its own knows it better to protect our environment," Moreno said.

"For now, hangga’t wala naman sigurong nakapagsasaad o nakapagpapatibay sa (if somebody has yet to prove their) claim ng iilan may (of the few, there is a) presumption of regularity, so if that is the case, we continue to support DENR," he added. 

The city mayor said that it is best if there will be someone on watch on how the synthetic white sand will affect the area especially during typhoons.

"Maigi na rin na may nagbabantay na tao. (There should be someone watching out) The next action would be to really scrutinize the supposed danger of that particular sand to our environment," he said.

A scientist earlier said storms and the high tide could wash away the artificial white sand that the government dumped around Manila Bay.

“If you put white sand in that place, chances are during storms and during high tide, when the waves are high… all of the sand will be washed out and transported,” University of the Philippines Resilience Institute executive director Mahar Lagmay earlier told ANC.

Meanwhile, Moreno said the local government will continue its Manila Bay clean-up efforts. 

"We will continue to clean all those solid waste materials within our territorial jurisdiction," he said.

"We will try in our own little way to be more efficient in cleaning up our estero. Bagama’t ito’y nasa pangangalaga ng [Metro Manila Development Authority] at DENR pero kami bilang (Even if it is under the care of MMDA and DENR, us as the) local government, we will do our part."

Environmental group Kalikasan earlier urged Moreno to halt the dumping operations saying that the "improper sand dumping" can cause various effects to the existing ecosystem.

"May we remind Mayor Moreno that Manila Bay is not dead. In fact, the Sardinella Pacifica, a new sardine species only available in the Philippines, was discovered in the waters of Manila Bay just last year. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources itself said Manila’s waters are potential sardine conservation areas," it said.