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Sign of our times

"Spaces in the right places are not enough to correct everything that is wrong with the dolomite project."

 

A new and improved arch now stands announcing the entrance to the “rehabilitated” stretch of Manila Bay. The first arch —  saying “MANILABAYWALKDOLOMITEBEACH” — was met with contempt by many observers for the glaring lack of spaces between words.

The sign as it now stands has the spaces in the right places — plus a few crosses that have some quarters comparing it to the entrance to a cemetery.

We hope the people in authority realize that even if they get rid of the “campo santo” feel of the area, they would still be called out for what they did on the beach.

Last year, while the country was still coming to grips with the novel coronavirus and wondering how long and to what extent we were going to be plagued by it, the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) went ahead with the implementation of its brilliant idea of bringing over dolomite sand from Cebu to the shores of Manila Bay. We are not even mentioning the doubts raised on the safety of dolomite for the environment.

No less than the presidential mouthpiece said that they did this for the benefit of Filipinos’ mental health. They may be made anxious by the threat of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of the lockdowns, so looking at that glorious white sand would turn their mood around.

The entire Manila Bay rehabilitation project cost taxpayers an estimated P389 million, with P28 million going to the dolomite overlay. We have yet to see how the non-dolomite portion of the allocation was spent.

The P28 million, by itself no means a small amount, has been pitifully wasted, photos of the bay after typhoons show. It has also not served any good aside from drawing crowds, who did not practice social distancing. And contrary to officials’ assertions, the staggering cost of the project puts a dent on our mental health aside from eating up funds that could have been used for more consequential purposes.

Phase 2 of the project will reportedly cost us another P265 million.

Unfortunately, the word “dolomite” has come to be associated with officials’ propensity to pursue useless projects with money that could have been used prudently in dealing with the pandemic.

“Dolomite” represents a disturbing disconnect between what is needed and what is provided by the government.

“Dolomite” evokes memories of the many times our leaders failed — and still fail — spectacularly in containing a virus that threatens Filipinos’ lives and livelihoods.

The awkward, laughable arc might as well be a sign announcing the entrance to this benighted land of ours during these precarious times.

Topics: Editorial , Manila Bay , rehabilitation project , dolomite project
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