The initial stage of Manila Bay’s artificial white beach is now 80 percent complete, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda announced on Facebook.

Antiporda, who holds the chief position at the Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force (MBAPTF), noted that the first phase could be wrapped up as early as July.

“As part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program under the Duterte administration, the first phase of our beach nourishment is about 80 percent complete, and hopefully, it will be completed by July,” he shared in his post.

The dumping of dolomite sand in Manila Bay is part of DENR’s ‘beach nourishment’ initiative, which aims to rehabilitate the iconic harbor. 

Besides physically beautifying the shores of Manila Bay, Antiporda also shared the drop in fecal coliform levels in its waters.

“We have significantly reduced the fecal coliform level in the waters near the US [United States] Embassy, but our work continues as we strive to reach its standard level that would be safe for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation,” he explained. 

Though the Philippines is under a pandemic, DENR is carrying on with the dumping of dolomite on Manila Bay’s shorelines, a move that has angered a lot of the administration’s critics. 

The rehabilitation of Manila Bay has a total price tag of Php 389 million. Due to its size, many groups are asking DENR for increased transparency when it comes to how the money will be spent. 

Some are asking the administration to re-allocate the money towards initiatives to help Filipinos deal with the pandemic.

The environmental agency said the budget for the project was allocated before the COVID-19 pandemic began and that the dolomite beach is just one of the many plans they have for Manila Bay.

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Image credit: DENR Usec Benny Antiporda’s Official Facebook Page