Use papaya whitening soap on Manila Bay

By: Joel Ruiz Butuyan - @inquirerdotnet - Inquirer.net | September 14,2020 - 08:00 AM

I have a stinking suspicion that the government officials who planned and implemented the dumping of “white sand” along Manila Bay are people who are addicted to papaya skin whitening soap and glutathione skin lightening pills. They want everything white, because they have this insane belief that anything gray, black, or brown is dirty and ugly. This can be the only plausible reason for what they have done, because all their other explanations are plain dumb.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) says the project was actually conceptualized and funded last year before the pandemic happened. Whether it was planned before or after the pandemic, it makes no difference because the project is just plain dumb. It was dumb for it to have been planned before the pandemic, and it has become dumber for it to still be implemented even during the pandemic.

The DENR gives the justification that the “white sand,” consisting of crushed dolomite rocks, is actually for a “beach nourishment” project in furtherance of efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay. DENR officials should be made to watch a video presentation made especially for them—a running clip of a swimming pool installed with the whitest tiles, but the water flowing into it coming from the sewage canal and the septic tank.

The DENR knows what a dangerous cesspool Manila Bay is, because of its involvement in two Supreme Court cases. In 1999, the DENR was a respondent in a Supreme Court case (Oposa v. Factoran) that was filed to force the government to clean up Manila Bay. Environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. revealed then that the amount of bacteria in Manila Bay was already at one million units per cubic meter, compared to the safe water standard of not more than 100 units per cubic meter. After 10 years of litigation, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling ordering the DENR, among others, to clean up Manila Bay. In 2019, the DENR was the plaintiff in a case decided by the Supreme Court where Manila Water and Maynilad Water were fined P1 billion because of their failure to build sewage treatment plants in Metro Manila, and despite having collected sewerage fees from their customers since 1997. This case horribly reminded us that virtually all sewage and septic waters in the metropolis end up in Manila Bay. Oposa disclosed that in 2019, bacteria levels in the bay had risen to a whopping 330 million units per cubic meter, prompting him to call Manila Bay an “unflushed toilet bowl.”

With this dangerous level of water pollution, the DENR project of creating a fake white beach along Manila Bay amounts to what is abhorred by our law as an “attractive nuisance.” The attractive nuisance doctrine states that the owner of a property may be held liable for injuries to children if the injury is caused by an object on the property that is likely to attract children. Not only does the bogus white beach invite children to contract all forms of diseases lurking in the polluted waters, it likewise exposes the government to substantial liability because it has created an attractive nuisance along Manila Bay.

During a House of Representatives hearing, DENR officials revealed that the P389 million funding for the project came from the “contingency fund” of President Duterte. The President bears responsibility for allowing this waste of funds at a time when he has repeatedly told the country that the government has no more money to fund the pandemic needs of his people. There should be a glut of papaya whitening soap in the market nowadays because people are naturally getting lighter skin due to their prolonged home confinement. The P389 million could have bought a tremendous stock of papaya soap, and the sight of DENR officials washing black sand along Manila Bay would have brought laughter-inducing entertainment to the people, which is so much needed in this time of fear and tribulation. That could have been a much better use of public funds instead of the blood-curdling spectacle of bogus white sand dumped in Manila Bay.

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