THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) clarified on Tuesday that minors aged 12 years and above will be allowed to visit the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach and only those aged 11 and below are temporarily banned.
The clarification came after the department announced Monday night that those 12 years and below will not be allowed to enter the area starting Oct. 26 due to restrictions under the alert level 3 system.
In a televised briefing on Tuesday, DENR Undersecretary Benny D. Antiporda said there were “no lapses in communication” between the DENR and the national government, but the earlier announcement was based on information they received that children are allowed to go to open areas when Metro Manila was put under alert level 3 on Oct. 16.
However, the policy has been adjusted as the Dolomite Beach, despite being an open area, became a “crowded open area” when the number of visitors reached up to 25,000 in the past two weekends.
Minors aged 12 to 17 years are allowed to enter as the government has started vaccination against the coronavirus disease for the age group.
Mr. Antiporda also advised the public that the Dolomite Beach will be closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3 for the All Saints’ Day observance.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, meanwhile, called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to press charges against DENR for allowing people to flock to the Dolomite Beach which could become a “superspreader” event.
The local government of Manila has no direct role in the area’s management.
“What’s ironic there is that they are the implementers and also the violators. Now I’m challenging agencies of government under IATF to file charges in violation against their fellow national government (officials),” Mr. Domagoso said in an ANC interview Tuesday.
Mr. Antiporda, on the other hand, said Mr. Domagoso gave the DENR a “very supportive letter” Monday night to ask about their plans and strategies to control the crowd. He said the letter started with the words, “We are in full support of the project of the DENR.”
Mr. Antiporda nonetheless admitted that there were “a few lapses” on the part of the DENR, but the problem “was addressed immediately.”
In an interview on CNN on Monday, DENR Undersecretary Jonas R. Leones said they are planning to close the Dolomite Beach once a week for maintenance and will implement a 15-minute stay for visitors in order to reduce the number of people in the area. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago