Solons want probe on Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project

A GROUP of lawmakers filed a resolution on Tuesday calling for an investigation on the Department of  Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) ‘white sand’ project at the Manila Bay. The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, under Resolution 1194, cited issues raised by various groups on the use of crushed dolomite. Gabriela Women’s Party, one of the six members of the bloc, said a probe may not be possible soon given the ongoing 2021 budget deliberations, but they aim to immediately halt the project. “Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas wants to fast-track the recently filed resolution… However, because of the ongoing budget deliberations, a House inquiry may not happen any time soon. But Gabriela Women’s Party will still push for the stoppage of this disastrous project as it may cause respiratory ailments and more harm to the already heavily polluted Manila Bay,” the group told BusinessWorld via Viber. Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu defended the project during Tuesday’s hearing on the DENR budget. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Iligan City, Lanao del Sur residents not covered by cash aid 2nd round

RESIDENTS OF Iligan City and the province of Lanao del Sur, which have been reverted to a stricter quarantine level until the end of Sept. due to a surge in coronavirus cases, are not covered by the government’s second round of cash aid. In a briefing on Wednesday, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)Undersecretary Rene O. Paje said families in these areas will just have to tap into other social assistance programs. “Bagamat nais din sanang matulungan…hindi kasi sakop sa second tranche ang mga lugar na ito kung kaya’t maaari na lang po iyong mga talagang nangangailangan dito ay mag-avail sila ng ibang programa ng (As much as we want to help… these places are not covered by the second tranche, so those who are really in need of aid can avail of other programs of the) DSWD,” he said. The government’s social amelioration program (SAP) is an emergency cash distribution for the poorest households. As of Sept. 6, Mr. Paje said they have so far distributed P82.1 billion for the SAP second tranche, covering 13.7 million families. Distribution is pending for another 400,000 beneficiaries. — Gillian M. Cortez

Samal mayor says Writ of Kalikasan does not apply to properties affected by bridge project

THE WRIT of Kalikasan, a judicial remedy relating to environmental protection and the people’s constitutional right to a healthy ecology, cannot be applied to commercial establishments that will be affected by the planned Davao-Samal bridge, according to Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy. “I asked my city legal here in Samal, and I don’t think that would qualify for a writ of kalikasan since the area is commercial,” said Mr. Uy in a briefing Monday. He also noted that the owners of the properties have not filed a petition. “So far nothing was filed. We haven’t received anything,” the mayor said. The long-planned bridge that will connect the island city of Samal to mainland Mindanao through Davao City was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board in November 2019. It is estimated to cost P23.04 billion and will be funded through an official development assistance package from China Eximbank. Based on the feasibility study, the bridge will span from R. Castillo Street, Barangay Agdao in Davao City and Barangay Caliclic in Samal. Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said the project is now undergoing conceptual design and construction plan, which are expected to be completed this month. Procurement activities will then follow. — Maya M. Padillo