Memos from Asia

Is Beautification Prioritized over the Pandemic in the Philippines?

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COVID has been affecting the entire world since its outbreak. Now it has been almost a year since this pandemic hit us and a lot of countries are slowly easing into the new normal environment that we have. The same is true for the Philippines. Since the lockdown ended in June, a lot of the normal private and government operations have resumed.

However, there was one government project that irked several Filipinos in the past weeks. This project is the Manila Bay beautification, specifically the 28 million cost in putting the dolomite sand on it’s shores. (ABS CBN)

Manila Bay is situated strategically in the city capital and has been facilitating trade between Philippines and other countries since the Spanish occupation. Ironically, what could have been a country landmark has been left to rot for several decades. In fact, Manila Bay has not exactly been clean for the longest time.

The current government started rehabilitating the area long before the COVID pandemic struck the country. And when the operations resumed, they were on the phase where they would be putting dolomite sand, artificial white sand commonly used in construction. This is where the havoc started. Some people did not appreciate that a material portion of the government’s money was used for “beautification” instead of helping the affected citizens. (Manila Standard)

Some also speculated that the dolomite was a health hazard for both the humans and marine life that it will come in contact with. Although the government has repeatedly assured the public that there are no known complications and that it was purchased long before the pandemic, a number of people still felt like it was unnecessary and insensitive. (Eco Business, https://www.eco-business.com/news/is-manilas-new-white-sand-coast-a-threat-to-marine-life/)

The pandemic has been tough on everyone and some may have felt the hardship more than the others. This is why it is understandable that some may feel negatively about government money being spent on other things. But if we are venturing to the new normal phase, where we have to somehow live with the pandemic before a vaccine is in place, would this have been the right move? Normalizing resuming the government projects

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