THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the planting of coconut trees along Roxas Boulevard on Wednesday as part of the Manila Bay beautification project, an initiative that was frowned upon by a fishers’ group.

Fisherfolk organization Pamalakaya, in an emailed statement, described the activity as “absurd, trying hard, a waste of public resources, and simply for aesthetics with a meager to no contribution to (the) rehabilitation of Manila Bay.”

Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando L. Hicap said, “Just because it’s natural (for coconut palm trees to grow on coastlines) doesn’t mean it is necessary… to restore the bay’s ecosystem. Planting of coconut palm trees along the shores reflects the government’s thrust on Manila Bay rehabilitation which is solely based on external beautification, rather than restoration of its marine and fishery resources.”

The group said the DENR should instead focus on planting mangrove and seagrass, which serve as fish sanctuaries, pollution filters, and can protect communities against flooding.

“Mangrove reforestation and seagrasses restoration are more relevant to the Manila Bay rehabilitation than the costly yet futile beach nourishment project,” Mr. Hicap said.

According to a PTV4 report, the DENR’s artificial white sand beach project along the bay is 80% complete.

The coconut planting project was supported by the Manila City government, Philippine Coconut Authority, and the Metro Manila Development Authority. — Angelica Y. Yang