(File photo)

MANILA – The Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach may be closed even after the Undas holidays for additional improvement works, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Thursday.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, said the measure is being considered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda told me that it is a decision to be made by Secretary (Roy) Cimatu -- there is a possibility that after Undas, they will still keep the dolomite beach closed until such time that they have completed with the expansion," Malaya said.

The beach will be closed from October 29 to November 3 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Malaya, quoting Antiporda, said the Manila City government is fully supportive of the project but it wants the number of people inside the area to be regulated.

"I think what they're considering is while the construction is ongoing, they would rather close the completed portion at this time," said Malaya.

Malaya also said the DILG will not file charges against the DENR over the supposed breach of health protocols at the beach, which drew thousands of visitors over the weekend.

"We (DILG) do not control this project. It's a project of the DENR. What we do is we support the policies enunciated by the DENR and yesterday (Wednesday), Secretary (Roy) Cimatu already made categorical pronouncements as to how we are going to regulate for example the five-minute to 15-minute rule, the maximum 3,000 persons to be allowed inside, the total prohibitions for minors 12 years old and below and other restrictions. So what we're going to do moving forward is just to support the DENR ensure that all of these regulations are followed,’’ Malaya said.

Covid-19 response

In the same interview, Malaya described as "unfair" the Bloomberg report that highlighted the country as being the ‘worst place to be’ amid the pandemic.

“In the (Covid-19 response) recovery cluster, we talked about that and we feel that the Bloomberg resilience data is practically unfair to our country. Because we are not the lowest in the world, we are just the lowest among the 25 largest countries that were (listed) by Bloomberg,’’ he added.

He also noted that the report is not a response assessment to the pandemic but a "resilience assessment".

The DILG spokesperson stressed that factors such as universal health care and quality of life as mentioned in the study are standards that are favorable to Western countries but unfavorable to developing countries like the Philippines. (PNA)