Funds for Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project could have been better spent, says bishop

September 8, 2020 - 3:35 PM
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People gather at a pedestrian overpass to see the controversial sand made of crushed dolomite boulders along the shoreline of Manila Bay while viewing the sunset on September 6, 2020. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

A Catholic bishop said that the government’s massive spending to overlay ‘white sand’ on the shores of Manila could have been better used to aid those greatly affected by the health crisis.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the administrator of the Manila archdiocese, said the P389 million project is ill-timed, pointing to the coronavirus pandemic the country is facing.

“During these times, where many are without jobs and have no food to eat, this project amounting to over P300 million just for the ‘white sand’ appears to be ill-timed,” Pabillo said over Radio Veritas.

“There are many incorrect things with this project, foremost is that it is not attuned with the current predicament of our nation,” he pointed out.

The bishop also echoed the concerns of some environmentalists that the synthetic white sand could be washed away by the waves, especially during typhoons.

“We are not even certain if this ‘white sand’ will be able to stay there since tons of trash fill up Manila Bay whenever there are typhoons,” Pabillo said.

“Therefore, this beautification may only be temporary,” he added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it would fill Manila Bay’s shore with white sand, which are actually refined dolomite rocks sourced from Cebu province.

The rehabilitation project that started two years ago has drawn controversy over its cost and environmental concerns.

The University of the Philippines Marine Biological Society (UP MBS) also condemned the project, “which does nothing to actually improve the worsening environmental and poverty conditions of the inhabitants of Manila Bay”.