Palace defends Manila Bay white sand 'beach enhancement' project

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2020 02:58 PM

White sand from Cebu are dumped in parts of Baywalk in Manila Bay. April Rafales, ABS-CBN News

MANILA-- Residents of the capital city need access to "beautiful" beaches even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday, as the government drew flak for dumping white sand on the bay walk of Manila Bay.

While the dumping of synthetic white sand on the bay walk is primarily a "beautification" project, Roque said it is also expected to help in flood control.

"Itong beach enhancement po na ito ay para makaiwas sa soil erosion at para makatulong din po sa flood control. Although primarily it is beautification, mayroon din pong dahilan bakit ginawa yan, it is a [anti] soil erosion project," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

(This beach enhancement is to avoid soil erosion and to help in flood control. Although primarily this is a beautification project, this is also an anti-soil erosion project.)

Beach-lover Roque said he is "happy" with the project since it gives city dwellers access to a white sand beach experience given that leisure travels are discouraged due to the pandemic.

"As a Manila resident, I'm happy na magkakaroon po tayo ng beautification of Manila Bay kasi kaming mga taga-Maynila ay kinakailangan naman magkaroon din ng access sa magandang beach sa mga panahon na hindi naman pupwedeng lumabas ng Metro Manila," Roque said.

(I'm happy that there will be a beautification of Manila Bay because we residents of Manila also need access to beautiful beaches at a time when we cannot leave Metro Manila.)

The government drew flak from environmental groups and netizens, saying the project was unnecessary and a waste of public funds. 

The Department of Health on Monday also pointed out that crushed dolomite--which appears like white sand--can cause respiratory issues and irritation to the eyes.