Crowding at Manila Bay 'white sand' shows gov't made right rehab decision: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 04:36 PM

People troop to Manila Baywalk on Sept. 20, 2020 to get a glimpse of the artificial white sand dumped in the area. Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

MANILA-- Seeing throngs of people at the Manila Bay over the weekend to see artificial white sand is proof that the beautification project is a right decision, Malacañang said Monday, even as physical distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had been violated.

"Naintindihan po natin yan, dahil 'yan po ay nagpapatunay na tama ang desisyon ng DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) at siyudad ng Maynila na lalo pang pagandahin ang Manila Bay," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

(We understand that because it proves that the DENR and Manila City made the right decision to beautify Manila Bay.)

Kuha ni Jekki Pascual ng ABS-CBN News umaga ng Sept. 20, 2020

Roque, however, cautioned the public that the lack of observance of minimum health standards is the "surest way" to catch COVID-19 as he appealed to the public not to crowd in the area.

"Magkakaroon din po kayo ng pagkakataon ma-enjoy [ang Manila Bay]," Roque said.

(You will have the chance to enjoy.)

Following the incident, the Department of Health on Monday warned the public against violating minimum health standards such as the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places.

"Kailangan lang po mapaalalahanan ang ating mga kababayan na ito po ay isang delikadong sitwasyon dahil maaari pong magkaroon ng pagkahawa-hawa ang ating mga mamamayan na nagpupunta d'yan na hindi po pinapatupad nang maigi ang minimum health standards," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

(We just have to remind Filipinos that this is a dangerous situation because they might get infected if they go there and minimum health standards are not imposed.)

A police station commander in Manila was sacked for failing to implement health safety measures when people flocked to the baywalk.

The dumping of artificial white sand in a part of the bay walk drew criticism from some officials and environmental groups, saying it was an unnecessary component of the Manila Bay rehabilitation project during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malacañang, however, has defended the project, saying funds for it were already allocated even before the health crisis.

Kuha ni Jekki Pascual ng ABS-CBN News umaga ng Sept. 20, 2020