Manila Bay rehabilitation

Pangilinan calls for Senate probe into P389-M Manila Bay white sand project

JC Gotinga
Pangilinan calls for Senate probe into P389-M Manila Bay white sand project

Workers conduct a cleanup at the Manila Baywalk on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 after water hyacinths and other garbage are washed into the dolomite sand after a heavy downpour from Tropical Depression Pepito.

Photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

'Sayang ang pera, parang pinaanod lang sa dagat,' Senator Francis Pangilinan says after storms washed away some of the crushed dolomite laid over a part of the shoreline

Senator Francis Pangilinan called for a Senate investigation into the controversial P389-million Manila Bay white sand project, which he called “wasteful and unnecessary.”

Pangilinan on Thursday, November 5, filed Senate Resolution No. 565, directing the appropriate Senate committee to investigate the environmental and health hazards the project may pose, as well as its sustainability and legality.

Pangilinan’s office gave reporters a copy of the proposed resolution on Friday, November 6.

This proposal is similar to one filed by Senator Leila de Lima in October. De Lima and Pangilinan are members of the opposition.

In his proposal, Pangilinan urged his fellow senators to look into the possible liability of government officials involved in the project under the following laws:

  • Local Government Code
  • Philippine Fisheries Code
  • Wildlife Conservation Act
  • Environmental Impact Assessment System
  • Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees
  • Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

“This project is wasteful and unnecessary. Dapat ginamit ang milyon-milyong pondo para i-supplement ang ating pandemic health response, o kaya para sa distance learning gadgets at materials ng mga guro at estudyante. Pwede rin sanang cash aid para sa milyong mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho ngayong pandemya,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Friday.

(The millions in project funds should have been used to supplement our pandemic health response, or perhaps for distance learning gadgets and materials for our teachers and students. It could also have been given as cash aid for the millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs during this pandemic.)

The Manila Bay Nourishment Project led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) includes the conversion of a portion of the bay’s shoreline along Roxas Boulevard into an artificial white sand beach.

For this, P28 million worth of crushed dolomite rock was laid over the original shore. This portion of the project was unveiled in September. Since then, rains and storms appeared to have washed away some of the dolomite, although the DENR insisted the original black sand only “washed in” and covered the dolomite bed.

Sayang ang pera, parang pinaanod lang sa dagat (What a waste of money, it was just swept into the sea),” Pangilinan commented.

Besides Manila Bay, the project may have also left problems in Alcoy, Cebu, where the dolomite was mined, the senator added. It could have caused the destruction of coral reefs, and the loss of the habitat of several endangered species.

Sa madaling sabi, mas maraming problema pa itong dinala kesa solusyon sana (In short, this brought more problems than solutions),” Pangilinan said.

A recently conducted assessment of the Environmental Management Bureau Central Visayas showed heavy siltation and poor coral cover in the areas surrounding the dolomite mining station of Philippine Mining Services Corporation (PMSC), a contractor for the Manila Bay Beautification Project. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.