Manila Mayor Isko Moreno urged the government’s coronavirus task force to file charges against Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials for failing to impose proper health standards when they opened the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach to the public over the weekend.
Moreno said in a press statement on Tuesday, October 26, that government health protocols were not followed at what he called a potential “super spreader” event that drew thousands of people.
Moreno also hit the DENR for failing to properly impose physical distancing protocols and for allowing kids below the age of 12 to enter the area despite the standing IATF resolution that kids are not allowed in crowded places.
“I am calling on IATF. Charge those people in DENR of violating…show our rules. If we cannot implement it within their offices, then there is no point implementing them sa taumbayan (to the public). Pinahirapan natin ang taumbayan, pero ang unang naglalabag eh tayo ring mga nasa national government,” Moreno said.
(We make things hard for the public, but the first ones to break the rules are us who are in the national government.)
The mayor noted that the DENR did not coordinate with or inform the city government about the event.
“Binuksan nila, hindi naman kami ininform (They opened the beach but they did not inform us),” Moreno said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
He was referring to the Manila Bay Coordinating Office, an agency under the DENR that should coordinate with all offices and agencies involved in the rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of Manila Bay.
DENR admits lapses
During Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s briefing on Tuesday, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda admitted that the DENR had some lapses in imposing safety protocols at the dolomite beach on Sunday. But he also insisted that they were able to keep things under control.
“Hindi po natin puwedeng sabihin na hindi tayo nagkulang. Nagkulang nang kaunti, pero naagapan po,” Antiporda said. (We can’t say that we didn’t commit lapses. We did have some lapses, but we were able to address them immediately.)
He said they implemented a “five-minute rule,” where only 300 to 400 people were allowed to enter at a single time and the next batch can only come in five minutes after the previous batch entered.
Antiporda added that the IATF decided only on Monday, October 25, that kids below 11 would no longer be allowed to enter the controversial beach. He clarified that they had let children inside the dolomite beach premises because the IATF had allowed kids in public spaces. This only changed after they classified the dolomite beach as a “crowded open area.”
Everything will be recalibrated once a new alert level is announced, Antiporda said.
The environment undersecretary appeared to be unaware of Moreno’s statements and instead said that they had received a “very supportive” letter from Moreno. He said Moreno asked for the department’s plans and strategies in crowd control.
The Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach will be closed from October 29 until November 3. – Rappler.com