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“Writ of Kalikasan may be petitioned” — policy paper on dolomite project

Scientist group AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, in a recently published paper, opined that a Writ of Kalikasan may be petitioned in relation to the controversial dolomite beach project. The group said that the dolomite project symbolizes what the Duterte administration really is: insensitive, insincere, and unscientific.

“The opportunity cost of the dolomite beach remains high at this time,” the paper’s conclusion reads. “Manila Bay’s natural ecosystems, such as its mangroves, are currently being destroyed to make way for other projects.”

The paper “emphasizes the importance of impact assessments and stakeholder engagement in project design and implementation”. It cites “the wealth of information on Manila Bay from years of research, especially by the DENR’s own agencies” as “sufficient for an analysis with little marginal cost for assessment.”

The policy paper has made three conclusions. First, the short term and temporary nature of beach nourishment as coastal protection must be weighed against its costs. Second, dolomite overlaying shifted priority and resources from the Mandamus and Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan water quality and waste targets to tourism. Third, Manila Bay is not dead. The dolomite project is still subject to EIA. The ease at which a desk review was made to evaluate the project shows that other government agencies, reports, and stakeholders were not consulted during the project design, and implementation, as well as the planned scaling up.

AGHAM highlights that while “marine science and biology experts from public institutions and the academe have expressed their concern for the dolomite project”, the Duterte government remains firm in defending and even requested an additional budget for the project.

The dolomite beach project was cited in the President’s State of the Nation Address as a priority project and was given an additional budget of P265-million for the second phase of the project.

These funds, AGHAM laments, could be used, instead, for more pressing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic such as food subsidy for the poor. Indeed, the dolomite beach symbolizes the Duterte administration’s “insensitivity and indifference to the plight of the Filipinos who are facing hardships in this time of pandemic”.

The consistent denial of the DENR despite the warnings of experts from Marine Science Institute [1], the Institute of Biology [2] and the Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology [3] of UP Diliman is an utter disregard of scientific knowledge. AGHAM points out that even the country’s environmental laws require that an environmentally critical project must be backed up with accurate and factual scientific research.

“The Duterte government is insincere when it portrays the dolomite project as part of Manila Bay rehabilitation efforts while it continues to ignore experts saying that the project actually harms the Manila Bay,” AGHAM stressed.

AGHAM “welcomes the House appropriations committee vice chairman and Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr.’s announcement that there would no longer be funds allocated for the dolomite beach project in 2022. However, in light of the recent construction of the arch in the overlay area, there is still a possibility that the project will still be maintained.”

“With plans to extend the area of the overlay project, it is incumbent upon the DENR to tap these resources and publicly release an EIS before expanding. Otherwise, a Writ of Kalikasan,
which is another special civil action on environmental cases, may be petitioned, particularly to motion for discovery measures such as an ocular inspection or production of documents,” the policy paper concludes.

AGHAM notes that the same attitude of “not listening to science-based recommendations” is also seen in the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response. “‘Unscientific’ could very well describe the general outlook of this administration”, adds the scientist group.

AGHAM declares that the dolomite project “should serve as a reminder to the people to reject Duterte and his clique in the coming 2022 elections.”

#SaveManilaBay

𝗪𝗔𝗧𝗖𝗛 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲: https://fb.watch/8jxwMCp8J0/

Endnotes

[1] Official Statement of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) on the recent rehabilitation efforts in Manila Bay: Crushed Dolomite sand will not help solve the root of environmental problems in Manila Bay dated September 20, 2020, url: https://www.facebook.com/upmarinescienceinstitute/posts/1025506481204991

[2] Dolomite bad for Manila Bay; plant mangroves instead – UP scientists by Alexandria Dennise San Juan dated October 9, 2020 published by Manila Bulletin url: https://mb.com.ph/2020/10/09/dolomite-bad-for-manila-bay-plant-mangroves-instead-up-scientists/

[3] Official Statement of Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology (IESM) entitled, Environmental Impacts of Dolomite Sand on the Marine Environment of Manila Bay
(Understanding the Ecology and Hydrology of Manila Bay) dated September 2020, url: https://iesm.science.upd.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Manila-Bay-Statement_IESM_29Spe20-final.pdf

𝗗𝗢𝗪𝗡𝗟𝗢𝗔𝗗 𝗔𝗚𝗛𝗔𝗠’𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗰𝘆 𝗽𝗮𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 at https://cids.up.edu.ph/publications/pjpp/pjpp-2021-pjpp202101/

Original photo: The STAR/Jesse Bustos

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