Pres. Duterte praises Cimatu for Manila Bay clean-up, rehab; hits Leni for always criticizing project

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Davao City on September 21, 2020. ALBERTO ALCAIN/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for the rehabilitation, cleaning and beautification of Manila Bay as a portion of the bay area which had been covered with crushed dolomite rocks became an instant attraction for both locals and foreigners.

“Let us begin by congratulating Secretary Cimatu. You know I remember that meeting and I think everybody was there when I said, ‘Roy, kaya mong linisin ‘to? And his answer was a very curtly — very curtly given, he said, ‘Kaya kong trabahuhin.’” Duterte said at the start of his address to the nation Monday night, Sept. 21.

The President also commented that his critics, including Vice President Leni Robredo, have always something bad to say about the government project that had transformed the Manila Bay into a “white sand” oasis in the Philippine capital.

“Now, people now are really enjoying the reclaimed area with the white sand maski na papaano. Wala naman talaga tayong magawa. You do it, may masabi sila. You do not do it, may masabi si Leni. What do you want us to do? Ang problema kasi nitong ano ‘yung magsabi that we are not doing enough. What can we do with the germ that’s flying around? It’s the microbe that can’t be controlled,” President Duterte explained.

Robredo had lamented that social distancing protocols were not observed during the public opening of the Manila Bay “white sand beach” opening last weekend.  The beach area was again closed so the project could be finished.

Robredo had early on been criticizing the project to put artificial white sand on Manila Bay, claiming that it was “insensitive” at this time of the pandemic.

Napaka-insensitive na gagawin mo ‘yan sa height ng pandemic na ang daming nagugutom, ang daming naghihirap,” she said in a one of her weekly radio shows.

Sa panahon ngayon na ang sagot sa atin wala tayong pera, nakakainsulto kapag nakikita ng tao ‘yung ganitong programa,” she said.

-DENR says dolomite project on Manila Bay costs only P28M-

But the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had already clarified that the budget for placing “white sand” at a portion of Manila Bay was only P28 million, and that this has already been allocated since last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DENR said that the P389 million which critics of the government had been hitting the government for allegedly spending on the white sand project was actually allocated for the whole Manila Bay clean-up and rehabilitation project, for which only P28 million is spent for the white sand project.

DENR Undersecrery Jonas Leones also clarified that the P28 million already included the cost of the crushed dolomite, and its transport from Cebu to Manila.

Ang cost ng naibayad, about P28 million, kasama na ang price of dolomite sand, transportation cost, and other fees, Package na po ang delivery nun mula sa Cebu hanggang Manila Bay,” Leones said in a previous Senate hearing.

-Dolomite to clean up waters of Manila Bay, says Cimatu-

DENR Secretary Cimatu even stressed that the crushed dolomite used to cover the baywalk area of Manila Bay will in fact even clean the waters of Manila Bay because of its properties.

The dolomite particles will also be able to turn the acidic water into alkaline water as done in dolomite use for aquariums, he said.

He also noted how the dolomite sand had been previously used in high-end resorts in Cebu.

May nagsabi na mayroong dolomite. Ito po ang ginamit nila dyan sa resort sa Mactan. Mayroon din sa Cebu. So mayroon na pong experience dyan na puedeng magamit,” Cimatu said referring to the dolomite sand at the Manila Bay beach area.

Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) explains safety of dolomite particles being used to cover a portion of Manila Bay shoreline near the US Embassy in Manila on Sept. 8, 2020 during budget deliberations at the House of Representatives (Screenshot of House of Representatives video/Courtesy House of Representatives)

Pangalawa, lilinisin rin nito ang tubig. Magbibigay ng nourishment. Tingnan po ninyo sa mga aquarium na may bato-bato. That is dolomite, lilinisin po niya ang tubig na ito. From acidic magiging alkaline po ito,” the DENR chief explained in an earlier Senate hearing on Sept. 8

Cimatu explained that the crushed dolomite used to make a “white beach” area in a part of Manila Bay is three times bigger than sand, and that the department had studied the plans very well on the use of dolomite.

(Eagle News Service)