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Manila Bay ‘white sand’ draws crowds and flak from netizens; Mayor Isko Moreno orders ‘temporary closure’

#ManilaBayChallenge has also been trending on Twitter and Facebook since the beach was temporarily opened during the weekend.

Manila Bay’s newly-minted “white sand” beach may have caused more harm than good after crowds gathered to “appreciate” its beauty.

Photos and videos from virtually every Metro Manila-based news outlet showed thousands of people flooding the recently-opened section of Manila Bay featuring DENR’s (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) controversial beach restoration project.

Netizens who saw the photos and videos were upset at the lack of adherence to social distancing protocols—even as police from the Ermita Police Station were present.

Celebrities weighed in with their thoughts, either through choice words…

… or emojis.

Despite blatant violations of quarantine protocol, the incident has not yet caused any spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases. For his part, recently-promoted Philippine National Police chief Camilo Cascolan said both the police and the citizens were to blame for the violations.

“Mahirap po talaga sa mga kapulisan pero wala po kaming magagawa. Kailangan matuto po ang komunidad sa ginawa po namin. Siguro naman po sasabihin niyo sa amin na mali ata’ yun, pero dapat isipin niyo saan din kayo nagkamali. Dapat hindi narelieve ‘yung aming kapulisan kung ginawa namin ang tama, hindi po ba?” Cascolan said in a press briefing after the incident.

(It is really hard on the part of the police but we could not do anything. The community needs to learn from what we did. Maybe you will tell us we are wrong, but think also about your mistake too. Our police officer should not have been relieved if we did what was right.)

The police officer he was referring to is former Ermita police station commander Lt. Col. Ariel Caramoan.

For his part, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has ordered the closure of the said area of Manila Bay. He has asked Ermita police station OIC Lt. Col. Alex Daniel to deploy at least 20 officers in the area and enforce quarantine protocols.

Whether this means he is against the rehab or not remains to be seen, but he has gone on record to say he supports the measures taken by the DENR.

“What will be the major reason to stop? And what are we going to gain when we stop? It is long overdue. Let us be fair to environmentalists who fought for this for 20 years,” said the Manila mayor in an interview with ANC.

Malacañang has released a somewhat conflicting statement about the crowds at Manila Bay early on Monday, September 21.

In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has defended the beach rehabilitation project and claimed that crowds flocking to the newly-minted beach is proof that it was “the right decision”—even as he reminded Filipinos to still adhere to quarantine protocols.

LOOK: Gov. Jonvic Remulla reacts to ‘kilig’ Harry Roque in viral video

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