Akbayan wants DENR cited in contempt over ‘white sands beach’

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    THE party-list group Akbayan Citizens Action Party yesterday asked the Supreme Court to cite the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in contempt for violating the SC’s 2008 order directing the department and other government agencies to protect, rehabilitate and clean Manila Bay.

    In a 16-page motion, Akbayan said the DENR move paving the shore area of the bay with dolomite sand as part of its P389 million beautification project directly contravenes the SC order.

    “Akbayan believes that the dolomite dumping operations of the DENR and the DPWH on Manila Bay was done in utter and complete disregard and violation of the continuing mandamus judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court in this case,” the petition said.

    “The dolomite dumping operation at the Manila Bay will not rehabilitate and restore the Manila Bay coast as a natural habitat. Rehabilitation and restoration as a natural habitat entails the implementation of activities which are free from the introduction of exotic materials – materials that are otherwise alien and not naturally occurring to the coastal environment’s indigenous state such as dolomite,” the petition said.

    Akbayan said building an artificial “white sands beach” on Manila Bay is not in line with the DENR’s duty as provided for under the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan (MBSDMP).

    It also said the project is inconsistent with the National Economic Development Authority’s sustainable development plan.

    “Clearly, when DENR admitted that its artificial beach enhancement project does not match the plans of NEDA, it also admitted that the project is in direct contravention of the MBSDMP,” it added.

    Akbayan also noted the possible health hazards posed by dolomite to the public, citing a report by the US-based form Lehigh Hanson Inc. that it may cause cancer, damage to the lungs and skin and eye irritation through prolonged and repeated exposure.

    It also cited a statement earlier this month by Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire that dolomite can pose health risks, including respiratory problems.

    The DOH though backtracked and claimed otherwise.

    Akbayan also asked the SC to convene the Manila Bay Advisory Committee headed by the Chief Justice to “review and determine the effect of the dolomite dumping operations consistent with the precautionary principle.”

    The Manila police tried to prevent Akbayan members from holding a brief protest action outside the gate of the SC compound on Padre Faura, Manila, saying they need a permit to stage a rally. They were later allowed to hold a brief program before filing the petition.