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Manila Bay ‘white sand’ critics to file writ of kalikasan vs dolomite dumping

Manila Bay 'white sand' critics to file writ of kalikasan vs dolomite dumping

Organizations protest the dumping of crushed dolomite rocks along the coastline of Manila Bay on Sept. 11, 2020.

MANILA, Philippines — A coalition of environmental advocates and communities is set to file a petition for writ of Kalikasan against the dumping of artificial white sand along the shoreline of Manila Bay.

In a release Friday, Manila Baywatch said it is set to file the petition “at the earliest time” as the coalition builds up a case against the government’s beach nourishment project.

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A writ of kalikasan is a legal remedy for persons or organizations whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened.

“By proceeding with project implementation without an environmental compliance certificate, the project is subjecting the public and the environment to undetermined health risks,” Terry Ridon, Infrawatch PH convenor said.

He noted that the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Public Works and Highways violated DENR regulations.

The “beach nourishment” project—classified as an “enhancement” project—was issued a certificate of non-coverage. CNC is issued by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau to certify that the undertaking is not covered by the country’s Environmental Impact Statement system and is not required to secure an ECC.

“These (tourist potential and unique historical interest) are two requirements necessitating coverage, not exemption, from the Environmental Impact Assessment process as there are environmentally critical areas under DENR law and regulation. As such, admitting that the project did not go undergo the proper process, there is a clear prima facie case for a writ of kalikasan and an environmental protection order,” Ridon said.

Gia Glarino, research and communications coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Enviroment, said the issuance of the writ is an important step to mitigate the negative impacts of the dumping of crushed dolomite rocks.

“The consequences, including economic, health and environmental impacts, necessitate a writ of kalikasan to assert our right for a balanced and sustainable marine ecosystem in Manila Bay,” she said.

Government officials said that the “beach nourishment” project is part of the government’s rehabilitation program for the degraded bay. They also said that dolomite sand would prevent erosion and neutralize the acidity of the water.

But for groups advocating “genuine rehabilitation” for the bay, the project will pose harm not only to marine ecosystem but also to communities around the area.

The overlaying of synthetic white sand along the shore of Manila is expected to be done by September 19, in time for the International Coastal Clean-up Day. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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