Manila, Philippines – Exactly a year after the government has filled dolomite white sands within the 500-meter stretch of the Manila Baywalk, the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) has criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) anew, over “complete failure” of the rehabilitation program in the historic Manila Bay.
“A year after the infamous dumping of dolomites along Manila Bay, we ask the DENR what does it achieve in regards to restoration of the marine and fishery resources? Nothing. Because this project is precipitous, useless, and a total waste of public funds amid a public health crisis that every cent is crucial. The DENR should be made to answer over this ill-conceived program that cost our public coffers hundreds of millions,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap, a fisherman in Manila Bay, said that its fisheries condition remains “status quo if not badly deteriorating”, citing the average fish catch of a small fisherman that is still at 2-5 kilos per fishing trip.
“Hindi naman nakinabang ang mga mangingisda sa puting buhanging itinambak sa baywalk. Kung bakawan na lamang sana ang ginastusan at ipinatanim ng DENR, dumami pa ang mahuhuli naming isda. Pero hindi, wala sa plano ng pamahalaan na tunay na ibalik ang sigla ng Manila Bay bilang pangisdaan, kundi isapribado at palitan ang produktibong gamit nito tungong pangnegosyo,” Hicap added.
Hicap, a former Anakpawis Party-list solon said that the P389 million dolomite budget “could have planted at least P13, 000 hectares of mangroves that are vital to the marine ecosystem and biodiversity”. Citing the study of Primevera and Esteban (2008), PAMALAKAYA said that mangrove planting costs around $607.7 or P28, 881.6 per hectare, which means that the budget for Manila Bay “beautification” could plant a total of 13, 469 hectares of mangrove forests.
“Compared to the baloney dolomite dumping, mangroves are crucial to the marine environment and coastal communities. Mangrove amenities include community defense against strong waves and surges, flood regulation, sediment trapping, and marine wildlife habitat and nurseries,” Hicap explained.
“White sand dumping is trying to whitewash the government’s failure to rehabilitate Manila Bay. Instead of a transformative and sustainable environmental and scientific intervention, the DENR is more fixated on cosmetic surgery,” ended Hicap. ###