Health dep’t warns DENR’s ‘white sand’ project can cause respiratory ailments

INHALATION OF crushed dolomites placed along the shore of Manila Bay — a project being undertaken by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to create a ‘white sand’ effect — may have “adverse effects” in the respiratory system, the Health department said. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said medical literature show that dolomite dust can cause “respiratory issues.” She added that there are other potential minor health risks such as eye irritation and discomfort in the gastrointestinal system. Nonetheless, the health official did not condemn the DENR project saying observing minimum health standards can prevent the effects of dolomite such as wearing masks to avoid inhalation. A local think tank, meanwhile, said the DENR violated local environmental laws and its own policies by having an exemption from environment compliance regulations for the Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project. In a statement, Infrawatch PH said the DENR violated Presidential Decree No. 1586, or the Environmental Impact Statement System Law, and DENR Administrative Order No. 2003-30 which contains the implementing rules and regulations on environment compliance certificates. The group also called on the Supreme Court to step in through its Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC), headed by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta. The MBAC allows the Supreme Court to examine the reports of government agencies involved in the Manila Bay clean-up program. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Makati gov’t launches P2.5-B support program for businesses, workers

MICRO AND small businesses in Makati can avail of a P10,000 to P100,000 grant under the city government’s P2.5-billion economic relief program to stimulate the local economy bogged down by the coronavirus outbreak. “This is not a loan, but financial aid aimed to help some 78,000 businesses registered in Makati. We will ensure an easy, fast and automatic process for the approval of grants under the program,” Makati Mayor Abigail Binay-Campos said in a briefing Monday. The grant will be allocated for and paid directly to the establishment’s workers and Makati-based suppliers. Aside from the financial aid, the mayor also announced other economic stimulus measures such as setting “the lowest possible tax rates” for online sellers and a “travel window” during curfew hours to allow Makati residents more time to dine at restaurants. “These initiatives are intended to support businesses and ensure a safe environment for Makatizen consumers. We recognize the urgent need to help business owners recover in order to sustain their operations and retain their employees, which include city residents,” Ms. Binay said.

Magnitude 6.4 earthquake shakes south-central areas in Mindanao on  eve of Q3 earthquake drill activities

A MAGNITUDE 6.4 earthquake shook south-central areas in Mindanao at 11:23 p.m. Sunday, but no major damage was reported from the tremor with an epicenter offshore, located southeast of Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), in its bulletin, said intensity five was reported in several towns of the neighboring provinces of Davao del Sur and Sarangani as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, and Mati. Phivolcs also immediately issued a no-tsunami threat advisory following the earthquake. A series of earthquakes, with magnitudes over 6, struck the south-central part of Mindanao last year from October to December.

Preparedness amid pandemic

The quarterly earthquake drills held nationwide resumes this week, with activities to be held online. “Despite our current situation, we must bear in mind the importance of keeping ourselves safe. I encourage the public to continuously engage in activities that promote earthquake safety. In our constant effort to promote disaster resilience, everyone’s involvement is necessary,” Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo B. Jalad said in a statement. Among the activities lined up are a webinar on “Earthquake preparedness and response in the new normal” on September 8 starting at 10 a.m via Zoom and Facebook live stream. The Office of Civil Defense said they are also preparing to update the national and regional continuity and contingency plans to integrate health measures in line with the coronavirus crisis. The Philippines is within the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.