Regional Updates (09/08/20)

DENR’s Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project violates at least five laws — NGOs

SEVERAL NONGOVERNMENT organizations (NGOs) claimed that the dumping of crushed dolomite or ‘white sand’ along the coast of Manila Bay by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) violated at least five laws that affected fisheries, biodiversity, and marine habitats. In a position paper, Oceana Philippines and other civil society groups said the DENR’s project failed to comply with the Fisheries Code, the Clean Water Act, National Cultural Heritage Act, Local Government Code of 1991, and Presidential Proclamation No. 2146, which declares “certain areas and types of projects as environmentally critical.” The Manila Bay is a declared national historical landmark. “We condemn this project and it must be stopped as it has not undergone an environmental impact assessment nor a consultative and participatory process in both Manila Bay and in Cebu (where the dolomite was sourced), as to its environmental impacts, thereby violating several environmental laws,” the position paper states. On the other hand, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Ano sees expressed support to the DENR. “This would not only give a nicer view but it could provide a safety buffer,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines. “What we have learned ay hindi na siya (is it is not) harmful,” he said. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire, in a briefing on Sept. 7, said studies indicate that the inhalation of crushed dolomite may pose respiratory issues and other minor health risks to people. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave and Emmanuel Tupas/PHILSTAR

Bacolod City, Lanao del Sur placed under strict quarantine level

BACOLOD CITY and the province of Lanao Del Sur have been placed under a strict quarantine level from September 8 to 30 following a spike of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. These areas will be under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) category, where public transport is not allowed, among other restrictions. In a briefing on Tuesday, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the national COVID-19 response, said Lanao Del Sur Governor Mamintal A. Adiong Jr. recommended the lockdown in his province, which includes Marawi City. The neighboring city of Iligan has earlier been placed under MECQ for the whole month of Sept. For Bacolod, Mr. Galvez cited that the critical care capacity of hospitals in the city are a “critical” level. The national task force also approved the temporary suspension of inbound travel for locally stranded persons to the Western Visayas Region, to which Bacolod belongs, as well as Iligan City and Lanao del Sur. The travel ban is in effect until Sept. 21. — Gillian M. Cortez

Cloud seeding set for irrigation source in Central Luzon

CLOUD SEEDING operations will soon be undertaken to augment the declining water level of Pantabangan Dam and ensure supply for the irrigation of agricultural lands in the Central Luzon Region. “Central Luzon is a critical component in our objective to achieve food security, especially for residents in the National Capital Region… With this initiative, we can ensure a respectable rice harvest in Central Luzon, particularly in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan and Tarlac,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said. As of Tuesday morning, Pantabangan Dam’s water level was at 182.11 meters, far from its normal operating elevation of 216 meters, according to data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). In other rice producing regions like Ilocos and Cagayan Valley, Bureau of Soils and Water Management Director Sonia M. Salguero said there is no urgent need to conduct cloud seeding as farm areas have “received ample rainfall due to the southwest monsoon and enhanced by the recent typhoon Julian.” — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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