Senator Francis Pangilinan wants an investigation into the “wasteful and unnecessary” spending by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of P389 million in taxpayers’ money for its fake white sand beach project in Manila Bay.
“Napakaraming ibang dapat gastusin ng pera ng bayan, hindi ang (fake) white beach project sa Manila Bay,” Pangilinan told reporters.
(Per recent estimates, super-typhoon Rolly’s damage to crops, livestock, private property and public infrastructure is close to P20 billion, while that of typhoon Ulysses is still undetermined.)
This is in line with Senate Resolution No. 565, which Pangilinan earlier filed, urging the chamber to look into the “sustainability, legality and possible environmental and health hazards” of the aforementioned project which being pilloried in social media by woke netizens.
The other month, it should be recalled, the DENR dumped several tons of crushed dolomite sourced from Alcoy, Cebu – which was taken by the Philippine Mining Service Corp.(PMSC) without first securing the clearance of the provincial government in obvious violation of existing laws – along the beachfront near the United States embassy, causing a sustained outcry questioning its legality and necessity.
Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia meanwhile revealed her office is awaiting the official report on the environmental impact of the dolomite mining on Alcoy’s seabed, as well as the possible tax violations of PMSC.
Per records of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, PMSC, which is based in Barangay Pugalo, Alcoy, allegedly owes some P1.9 billion in back taxes, dating to 2011.
Pangilinan said the fake white sand beach project is wasteful and not needed in the light of the pandemic, and the funds spent therein might have been put to better use for electronic gadgets for the DepEd’s distance learning initiative or economic assistance for millions who lost their jobs due to the quarantine lockdown enforced by the IATF.
And now, ayuda for literally millions of Filipinos devastated by typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.
“An investigation in aid of legislation should be conducted to address the concerns and issues raised regarding its sustainability, legality and possible environmental and public health hazards,” he said.
Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire of the Department of Health (DOH) was earlier quoted in numerous reports as saying that crushed dolomite is hazardous to one’s health especially if is dust enters the lungs and respiratory tract.
Pangilinan said the Senate should determine the possible liability of certain DENR officials connected with the project regarding allegations of overpricing, questionable bidding procedures and violation of existing environmental laws.
It was disclosed that of the project’s P389-million price, only P28 million was actually paid to the supplier of the dolomite, thus it is incumbent on the Senate to determine where the balance of P361 million went.
He cited possible violations of the Local Government Code, Philippine Fisheries Code, Wildlife Conservation Act, Environmental Impact Assessment System, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.