Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Wednesday said the controversial artificial “white sand beach” in Manila Bay was expected to benefit hotels and boost the economy in the area.
Domagoso, during a press briefing, said Roxas Boulevard’s “Manila Bay Sands” -- a play on Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands -- is expected to drive tourists to the area.
Even before formally opening to the public, the beach had actually attracted droves of tourists over the weekend, howevet, at the expense of social distancing during a pandemic.
“All the hotels in Roxas Boulevard will benefit from this. So businesses will boom,” Domagoso said.
Domagoso cited the suggested design of the city government for the development of the Manila Bay area called “The Manila Sunrays.”
Domagoso said the design was an aspiration for the area to have some structures.
Domagoso noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which heads the Manila Bay rehabilitation project, had prepared other plans to develop the area.
“In a good weather, someday, somehow, this will continue,” Domagoso added.
The DENR placed 500 tons of crushed dolomites to beautify and rehabilitate a small stretch of Manila Bay’s shoreline, as part of its Manila Bay rehabilitation program.
The Manila Bay rehabilitation received criticisms over the issues of the possible health hazards of crushed dolomites and the timing of the project amid the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.
The DENR has defended its decision to spruce up the area with dolomite sourced from Cebu.
Amid criticism, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday congratulated DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu following the placement of crushed dolomites.
However, environmental groups criticized the DENR’s rehabilitation of Manila Bay, saying it was not commendable.
On Tuesday, fisherfolk groups’ alliance PAMALAKAYA chairperson Fernando Hicap pointed out that the rehabilitation led by the DENR was superficial.
The station commander of the Ermita Police in Manila had been relieved from his post due to the breach in social distancing protocols, as the Department of Health sounded the alarm over the mass gathering at the area.
Despite social distancing violations during a preview of the beach, Malacanang said the huge crowds only showed that the government was right in pushing ahead with the project.
But they urged visitors to observe physical distancing.