Progressive lawmakers of Makabayan bloc are seeking an investigation into the controversial “white sand” project as part of the government’s artificial rehabilitation program of Manila Bay.
The group filed Tuesday House Resolution 1194 directing the lower chamber to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the joint project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Works and Highways along the 500-meter coastline of Manila Bay, following massive backlash from the public.
The resolution, signed by Bayan Muna Partylist Reps. Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, GABRIELA Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT-Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago, was shown to the media on Wednesday.
HR 1194 cited the clamor of environmental groups such as Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Greenpeace and Wavefarers on the government’s “artificial rehabilitation focusing on aesthetic appearance rather than addressing the environmental degradation” of Manila Bay.
It also cited the points of University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea Director Jay Batongbacal about the potential health hazard that dolomite rocks may bring, such as damage to the lungs or trigger cancer due to exposure to carcinogen.
Health Spokesperson Rosario Vergeire had also said that based on medical studies, dolomite can cause irritation in the eyes, and discomfort in the gastrointestinal system, pain, and diarrhea once ingested.
Last week, Cebu provincial board members sought a probe into the extraction of dolomite rocks from their area to overlay the “white sand” along the coast line of Manila Bay for aesthetics without their information. The DENR had already defended this move, noting that the project was done with “engineering intervention.”
But on Tuesday, the Cebu provincial government issued a cease and desist order against Dolomite Mining Corporation and the Philippine Mining Service Corporation in Alcoy town, the two mining firms behind the mineral extraction, to prevent them from further extracting, processing and transporting dolomite deposits.
Environmental officials earlier clarified that the budget for the dolomite extraction and transportation was only ₱28 million compared to the earlier reported ₱389 million.
The department is ready to answer to any legal actions that may be filed against it on the Manila Bay rehabilitation, officials added.