Limlingan: Aesthetics amid a pandemic

The Advocate

THE present white sand-filling project of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that is in between the stretch of the Roxas Boulevard and the Manila Bay is earning a lot of comments and criticisms from the public. As a national government project, it is attracting the attention of critics.

For background, the said government agency has caused the mining, hauling and filling-in of the shores of the said body of water with crushed dolomite, a mineral similar to white sand that was mined in Cebu province. The cost of the project amounts to a whopping P389 million and such amount is also the subject of a government spending issue amid the present global health threat.

The intention of the government, to enhance the aesthetics of the known shores of the Manila Bay is astounding, considering that the area is one of the show windows of the country and a wonderful tourist attraction for tourists, local and foreign alike. As a historical landmark, where the infamous Battle of Manila Bay took place, the place is important for us Filipinos.

During the times of previous mayors of Manila, the place was rehabilitated a couple of times, coupled with garden landscapes and the cleaning of its shores. This is the first time, however, that it is “artificially” made into a white sand beach with a cost that is considered too much.

Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso is in favor of the current project since one of his local administration’s thrust is the beautification and rehabilitation of his city. Undoubtedly, the said local chief executive is transforming Manila City into a tourist-friendly, model city in the country. So far, he supports the said project funded by the national government.

For the DENR, the project is considered a mere “enhancement” of the shores of the Manila Bay and for the said office, the “white-sanding” is worthy and justified one. It is necessary too, according to the said national government agency.

For many, the project is an onerous and loquacious project that is unnecessary and is being implemented at the wrong time when the global pandemic still exists and the economy is suffering. It’s a fact that because of the pandemic, many businesses are suffering and many have lost their jobs or sources of livelihood.

With such amount of the project, the government funds could have been “realigned” into other more worthy projects on livelihood that would have helped displaced workers and could have been a great help to boost the present economy. Such funds could have been utilized for economic jumpstarting and not merely for the beauty of the place.

For the Department of Education (DepEd), the funds for the Manila Bay beautification could have been used for the department’s educational needs of teachers and students such as internet accesses, computers and gadgets and the printing of modules that shall be used for the learning of the youth in the country. The DepEd secretary has a point for her comment.

While we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the government should think of economic packages and should focus on livelihood generating activities for the many who lost their business or jobs in addition to the budget for our fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). It should be reminded that we are still in the middle of the onslaught of Covid-19 and that the threat is still high in terms of infection.

While we are on the fight against Covid-19, government funds should be spent wisely for necessary, worthy and timely projects that would help the country’s economy rise.


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