TNP FACT-CHECK: Markers pass off dolomite beach as boost for entire Manila Bay

The P389 million dolomite beach project only covers 500 meters of the 190-kilometer Manila Bay coastline, contrary to what two stone markers placed in the site imply.

The markers, unveiled on June 13, bear photos that claim to show Manila Bay before and after the project. The dolomite beach covers only part of the Manila Bay coast, which spans four provinces (Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite and Pampanga) and five cities (Navotas, Manila, Pasay, Parañaque and Las Piñas) across three regions (National Capital Region, and Regions III and IV-A).

Map data from Google © 2022.

The “beach nourishment” or dolomite project was launched by the DENR in 2020 as part of its rehabilitation efforts for the Manila Baywalk promenade in the bay’s eastern coast.

The DENR, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and state media often referred to the project as the “Manila Bay Dolomite Beach,” without scaling the project to the bay’s entire coast.

The dolomite project came under fire as it began at the height of pandemic lockdowns. A 2020 policy note made by a Manila Bay development agency analyzing the project cited research that shows how dolomite, a foreign material, has disturbed local ecosystems and eroded soil in Manila Bay.

There are other ongoing or planned infrastructure projects lining the Manila Bay coast. A quarrying project by Silverquest Mining Resources Corp. (SMRC) has extracted sediments from the seabed near Cavite starting Jan. 10 to develop the Manila Waterfront City Reclamation Project, which would place two island masses in the city’s coast. As of June 2, the Manila project is still awaiting clearance from the Philippine Reclamation Agency to mobilize its operations.

A similar quarrying project by Cargon Mining Corp. (CMC) began in June 2021 off the coast of Bataan, which extracted sediments to dump in an ongoing harbor reclamation project in Pasay City. Two islands with a total area of 265 hectares will be built to support the city’s tourism and commercial activities.

Other projects lined up for the Manila Bay coast include an expressway in its northern coastline, an international airport in Bulacan, and more reclamation projects in Cavite, Navotas, Parañaque and Manila.

A post from state-owned People’s Television Network bearing photos of the markers has received over 70,000 reactions and nearly 4,000 shares on Facebook. Social media analytics tool CrowdTangle shows that there have been at least 65 Facebook posts containing photos of the markers a week after they were installed on June 13, most of which were accounts supporting President Rodrigo Duterte and President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (RP)