MANILA - Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Tuesday challenged the national task force overseeing the COVID-19 pandemic response to file cases against Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials for opening the dolomite beach in the capital city.
The influx of people to the man-made beach along Manila Bay "can be a super spreader," Domagoso told ANC's Headstart.
"Sila ang nagpapatupad, sila din ang lumalabag," he said referring to the lack of physical distancing and the presence of children below 12-years old in the area.
(They are the implementor, yet they are also the violators.)
"File charges in violation [of health protocols] sa mga kapwa nila nasa (against their fellow officials in the) national government," he said, as he called on the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) against COVID-19 to address the issue.
"If they cannot implement it within their offices, then there is no point implementing it sa mga taongbayan (to the public)."
The Manila Bay Coordinating Office earlier said it recorded "tens of thousands" of people visiting the 1.2-hectare artificial beach over the weekend. The Manila Police District estimated some 65,000 in total went to the area on Sunday.
The DENR later on banned children below 12 years of age from entering the dolomite beach in Manila Bay, saying it was "overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and interest of the public" with the dolomite beach.
Since last year, the government has been closing several private establishments that were found to be violating health protocols such as the observance of physical distancing.
"I hope this is not just a lip service... that they would file cases against violators," the Manila Mayor said, noting that the dolomite beach is still under the jurisdiction of the DENR.
"Binuksan nila, hindi naman kami na-inform (They opened it, and we were not informed)... It is under construction, it is under control," he said.
"Kapag natapos sila (When they finish it), it's ours," he said.
"We respect their authority developing the area... but due diligence must be observed."
WHAT PALACE, DENR SAID
The national government leaves the potential charges to the interior department, the police, and the Manila government, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
The DENR received a letter from Domagoso on Monday night "asking us on our plans and what the strategies we're using in trying to control the crowd," said agency's Undersecretary and spokesperson Benny Antiporda.
"Very supportive pa ho iyong letter niya and the letter started from the words na, 'We are in full support of the project of the DENR," he said in the Palace briefing.
(His letter was even very supportive and it started with, 'We are in full support of the project of the DENR.)
Earlier this week, the Department of Health also said the overcrowding of people in the dolomite beach over the weekend violated IATF rules.
Authorities "immediately" addressed this by allowing only 400 people at the beach at a given time, Antiporda said.
"Since magkakaroon na po ng pila sa labas, ang ginagawa po namin, immediately pinapakiusapan namin after 5 minutes, pagbigyan po natin iyong next batch," he said.
(Since lines would form outside, what we do we is we immediately ask them after 5 minutes if they could give way to the next batch.)
"Hindi po natin puwedeng sabihin na hindi tayo nagkulang. Nagkulang nang kaunti, pero naagapan po," added the official.
(We cannot say that we did not fall short. We fell short a bit, but it was remedied.)