MANILA, Philippines — The police commander for Ermita should have prevented people from crowding the portion of the Manila Baywalk now covered with crushed dolomite, Joint Task Force COVID Shield said Sunday.
The joint task force, which is in charge of enforcing quarantine protocols, issued the statement after Police Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan was relieved as commander of Manila Police District Police Station 5 over quarantine violations in his area of responsibility.
“Caramoan could have prevented the quarantine protocol violations at the Manila Bay if there was prior planning and regular monitoring of the situation in the area,” JTF COVID Shield said.
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“Clearly, he also failed to comply with the JTF COVID Shield order that was coordinated with [Police Gen. Camilo Cascolan, Philippine National Police chief] for all police commanders to monitor and immediately take action on violations of the quarantine protocols that are going viral in the social media,” the task force also said.
People had been flocking to the portion of the Manila Baywalk covered with crushed dolomite since Saturday, when it was opened to the public until the early evening.
Although there were efforts to limit the people inside the beach area — only 70 people were allowed in at a time and only for three minutes — photos taken of the area outside what some have started calling the “Manila Bay Sands” showed people crowding and not practicing physical distancing.
People flock to Manila Bay’s ‘white sand beach’ along Roxas Boulevard on Sunday morning. Officials opened a portion of the coastline to the public to demonstrate the viability of using crushed dolomite in rehabilitating and beautifying Manila Bay. | via Edd Gumban pic.twitter.com/gR5BO19hAl
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The crushed dolomite is part of a “beach nourishment” project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that it said is part of the efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay.
The “beach nourishment” project is not included in the master plan for the rehabilitation of the bay and environmental groups have raised concerns that the dumping could affect the remaining marine life in the polluted area.
The DENR has assured the public that the dumping of the dolomite does not pose any risk to the public or to the marine environment in Manila Bay.
JTF COVID Shield said Sunday that it is calling “on the people who plan to visit the Manila Bay to observe discipline and be mindful of your own safety amid the threat of the coronavirus disease”
— Jonathan de Santos