PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, September 21, praised Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for his rehabilitation efforts in the Manila Bay.
“Let us begin by congratulating Secretary Cimatu. You know I remember that meeting and I think everybody was there when I said, ‘Roy, can you clean this up?’ And his answer was…very curtly given, he said, ‘I can work on this,’” Duterte said.
The president also noted that the public is enjoying the now-completed Manila Bay “white sand beach” project.
“People now are really enjoying the reclaimed area with the white sand at least,” Duterte said.
“He (Cimatu) impressed me, he accepted my dare. It was a very positive statement. It was not even a neutral thing or a thing that would border (on speculation). He did not say ‘I can do it if.’ He said ‘I can do it.’ And people are now enjoying the benefits of the determined action of a Cabinet member to do good,” he added.
Duterte also thanked his other Cabinet members for helping him run the country.
“Without you, I would have a very hard time running the country. But because you are there — I’m not saying I have succeeded, that is for the people to assess or give when I’m no longer the president — but what I’m trying to impress also upon the people is that we are doing our job,” he said.
Duterte acknowledged the critics of the Manila Bay’s white sand project, noting that they will always have something to say.
“We really cannot do anything. You do it, they have something to say. You don’t do it, (Vice President Leni Robredo) has something to say, too,” he said in Filipino.
A crowd of people flocked to Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard over the weekend to witness its brief opening to showcase the artificial “white sand beach” implemented under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) P389-million Manila Bay rehabilitation program.
The Manila Bay opened to the public from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, and again on Sunday after the completion of its makeover project that involved pouring piles of crushed dolomite on the stretch of Manila Bay’s shore.
Despite the facelift, the government has banned the public from swimming in the area. The Manila Bay will also be closed starting Monday to continue the DENR’s rehabilitation efforts such as beach nourishment, dredging, and desilting activities.
“Napakahalaga na mabago ang kultura at pag-uugali ng mga tao upang tuluyang maisakatuparan ang rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay (It is very important to change the culture and behavior of the people to finally carry out the rehabilitation of Manila Bay),” Cimatu said.
“Gusto kong baguhin ang paniniwala ng tao sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng (white sand) beach dito sa Manila Bay. (I want to change the people’s beliefs by creating a white sand beach here in Manila Bay),” he added.
Cimatu also maintained that the DENR will continue its work on Manila Bay despite the criticism that the artificial white sand beach project drew earlier this month.
“Sadly there are those who are telling or accusing us of not contributing solutions. Finding fault just wanting to stop [these] beach nourishment activities here at Baywalk for reasons that are critical rather than environmental. We will not allow them to deter or distract us,” he said.
“We have nothing to fear as long as we know that we are doing something good,” he added.