Malacañang on Thursday said it is too late to realign the budget meant for the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay to the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response.
This was after marine scientists of the University of the Philippines (UP) said dumping crushed dolomite along parts of the Baywalk would not help solve the root cause of environmental problems in Manila Bay.
In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the executive branch could no longer realign the budget because the project has already started.
“Nasimulan na po iyan eh, so kinakailangan tapusin na po iyan. (It has already begun so we need to finish it),” Roque said.
He noted that the funds used to beautify Manila Bay were already part of the 2019 national budget.
“And as I said, itong project na ito (this project) was proposed two years ago, included in last year’s budget, and only being implemented,” Roque added.
He also explained that only funds for projects that have not yet started may be realigned.
Meanwhile, Roque defended anew the project from criticisms on the timing of the project amid the prevailing health crisis.
“Iyong budget po kasi diyan, hindi lang siya (The budget appropriated for the project, it’s not just) budget actually for the beach nourishment. It’s actually for the entire program of (the) government in rehabilitating Manila Bay,” he said.
Roque earlier claimed that the project could prevent soil erosion and flooding.
He also said it could help improve mental health.
Last month, a crowd of visitors flocked to the segment of Manila Bay’s shoreline to take photos and enjoy the new attraction.
Roque said the people’s reception showed that the project was a “good decision.”
President Rodrigo Duterte himself was impressed, saying that people are now “enjoying” the reclaimed area with white sand. (PNA)