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SC urged to cite DENR in contempt over sand dumping

The Supreme Court has been asked to cite the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in contempt for allegedly dumping dolomite sand on Manila Bay, a move complainants said was a direct violation of the high court’s continuing mandamus order for state agencies to clean up and rehabilitate the bay.

In a 16-page motion, the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party through its chairman emeritus Etta Rosales sought to intervene in the more than 10 year-old mandamus case pertaining to the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.

The party-list group said dolomite sand is hazardous to health and the environment.

It also called on the SC to immediately convene the Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC), headed by the Chief Justice, to review and determine the effects of the dolomite dumping operations along the bay under the DENR’s ‘nourishment’ project.

In 2008, the SC issued a writ of mandamus directing the DENR, as the lead agency, and other government agencies such as the Metro Manila Development Authority , Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Coast Guard, National Maritime Group, Department of Interior and Local Government and local government units to restore Manila Bay to a condition suitable for public bathing and swimming and for breeding bangus (milkfish) and similar fish species.

But the petitioner claimed that dolomite contains varying levels of crystalline silica that can damage human lungs, cause cancer when breathed in, and irritate the skin and eyes. With Willie Casas

Besides, the group argued that the dumping of crushed dolomite boulders on the foreshore would destroy Manila Bay’s ecological habitat that is home to various species of flora and fauna.

The petitioner insisted that building an artificial beach in Manila Bay is not in line with the duty of DENR in the continuing mandamus as such an artificial beach enhancement project is not in the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan .

“Dumping artificial white sand to achieve an artificial Boracay-like beach in Manila Bay is a direct violation of the Continuing Mandamus. The presence of dolomite in Manila Bay will never make the waters fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation; the presence of dolomite will only make the water classification therein worse,” Rosales said.

The petitioner cited the data safety report by US-based Company Lehigh Hanson Inc., where it was stated that dolomite may cause cancer, damage to organs through prolonged repeated exposure, and may cause skin and eye irritation.

The group took note of the statement made by DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie that the dolomite sand could pose health risks, including eye irritation and discomfort in the gastrointestinal system.

The petitioner cited Oceana Philippines’ claim that the project may harm the natural ecosystem and coastal integrity of Manila Bay, as the sand “does not appear to be a natural substrate of that portion of the bay.” With Willie Casas

Topics: Supreme Court , White sand , Oceana Philippines , Maria Rosario Vergerie , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Manila Bay
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