MANILA – Former Manila Mayor and vice presidential aspirant Lito Atienza on Friday hit the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach project, saying the costly rehabilitation effort was not the right solution to the bay’s problem.
On TeleRadyo, Atienza was made to respond to a viewer who asked, “Bilang dati ring (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary at alkalde ng Maynila, ano ang masasabi niyo sa pagtatayo ng dolomite beach?”
The former mayor answered, “Mali. Mali sapagkat hindi naman talaga yan ang problema ng Manila Bay.”
“Ang problema ng Manila Bay, dahil may lason ang tubig ng Manila Bay. Bakit may lason? Dahil yung tubig ng poso negro, kasama na yung dumi ng tao, sa buong Metro Manila, dyan bumubuhos yan sa Manila Bay araw-araw,” Atienza explained.
“Pagagandanhin mo yung buhangin, yung tubig naman may lason pa rin. Eh hindi mo pa rin pupuwedeng sabihin na mag-swimming doon. Pagka pinag-swimming tayo ng gobyerno ngayon diyan, at merong nadisgrasyang sinuman, pwede nating panagutin ang gobyerno.”
“Hindi ligtas ang tubig ng Manila Bay up to now. Although yung dolomite beach maganda, hindi yun ang solusyon,” he stressed.
Atienza recalled that in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of residents who claimed that the Metro Manila Development Authority and 12 other agencies neglected to protect and clean up the waters of Manila Bay.
The country’s top tribunal also ordered issued a continuing mandamus that required the government agencies to rehabilitate the waters of the bay.
“Ang desisyon napakabilis, naglabas agad ng desisyon ang Korte Suprema, forcing, in a continuing mandamus, all governments concerned, national and local, and private enterprises, tumulong kayo sa paglilinis ng tubig ng Manila Bay. Tubig--hindi naman sinabi ng Korte Suprema na linisin yung buhangin dyan ha. Gastusan niyo ng P1 bilyon.”
“That is a waste of money. At hindi naman dapat gumastos na diyan ang gobyerno eh,” he said.
Atienza said Manila Bay will be cleaned up when water concessionaires build wastewater treatment plants.
“Malilinis ang tubig ng Manila Bay kapagka yung dalawang water concessionaire, Manila Water and [Maynilad], ay ipatupad sa kanila yung bahagi ng kontrata nila sa gobyerno na sila ang bubuo ng wastewater treatment facility para yung tubig na galing sa poso negro natin, bago lumabas sa dagat, napurify na, malinis na. Yun ang dapat na proseso ngayon,” he said.
Various groups have questioned the dumping of fake white sand on the shores of Manila Bay, saying it is in violation of several environment and heritage laws.
Some groups also questioned the timing of the project, as it was conducted while millions of Filipinos struggled to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government officials, however, have repeatedly defended the project.
Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, for one, has said that complaints about the project were “misplaced.”
In an interview in September, Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones told ANC that they sought P1.6 billion for the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project in 2022.
The funds, he said, will be used for rehabilitating waterways that lead to the bay.
--Teleradyo, 21 January 2022