The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday assured they are applying engineering interventions in the Manila Bay beach nourishment project to protect and prevent erosion or washing out of the crushed dolomite boulders being laid in the area.
DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda gave the assurance during an interview aired over state-run PTV4, as he addressed critics of the project to provide their recommendation and help the government.
“We will do our best na talagang gawing effective lahat yan and at the same time i-reinforce pa yan (We will do our best to make it effective and even reinforce it),” he said.
Antiporda is referring to the geotextile tubes being installed in the area parallel to the sea wall of the Manila Bay, which will serve as a protective barrier to prevent erosion of the “white sand” or the crushed dolomite boulders.
He admitted, though, that whatever development applied or done in Manila Bay can be affected by calamities such as storm surges.
“We cannot overcome the power of nature when it comes to storm surge and it is exaggerated if they say that what about in case of a storm surge or a tidal wave? That is nature and we cannot claim that we can overcome those, the DENR is not like that,” Antiporda said in a mix of English and Filipino.
On the possible health risks on the use of crushed dolomite in Manila Bay, Antiporda said the Department of Health (DOH) already made a clarificatory statement on this with Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire referring to dolomite dust.
“Dolomite in its bulk state is not a known health hazard and that dolomite in dust form, like any other dust particle, can lead to symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and coughing for this is our body’s normal reaction to irritants,” DOH said in a statement.
An earlier statement by the DENR stated that the dolomite material used in Baywalk is 2-5mm or 100 times bigger than dust, therefore does not get suspended in the air.
“In terms of the general safety of the public who will be enjoying the shoreline once permitted, DOH assures that no untoward incidents will occur as a result of this endeavor,” the DOH added.
For those questioning the timing of the project, Antiporda said the project was already funded, bid out, and started since last year.
Had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, he said the project could have been finished last July.
Antiporda said they also heeded the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to return part of the DENR budget for the fight against the pandemic.
“Those who are saying that we are insensitive because the budget for this project could have been used to buy food, the DENR heeded the President’s call to return some funds to be used for the pandemic, and the DENR returned some PHP1.096 billion to the Department of Budget and Management and another PHP66 million to the national government,” he said.
Antiporda also called on the public to be circumspect in information being spread by critics who do not want to see development in the country. (PNA)