Board Member Winston Arzaga said the local government of El Nido is partly to blame for the current environmental problems facing the town, when it gave permits to establishments that were in violation of zoning and related regulations.
In a privilege speech Tuesday, Arzaga sought clarification from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the liability of the El Nido local government when it allowed establishments to operate without the necessary environmental permits.
“There are many operating establishments, which simply means they are holders of mayor’s permit. Perhaps, the LGU is also partly to blame for all the mess that is now happening in the municipality,” he said.
Arzaga also said there are about 300 establishments which have not complied with the required Strategic Environmental Protection (SEP) Clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
“The numbers [establishments without environmental permits] are alarming, and for us this is pressing, it is violating sustainable development,” he said.
Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued notices of violation to at least 32 establishments that exceeded the 3-meter coastal easement zone, and ordered them to vacate and self demolish to clear the beach area.
Arzaga also urged the DILG to inquire on the municipality’s use of the environment fee that it collects from tourists.
“What is the status of the environmental fee or environmental fund? Is it being used for the purpose of which it is intended? If not, then DILG can look into it,” Arzaga said.
Arzaga also claimed the PCSD, which is both a policy and regulatory body, is “helpless” in implementing the environmental rules and regulations.
“PCSD seems to be helpless in enforcing its very own rules and regulations. The environmental watch of the province, it is the body that has the primary responsibility to see to it if the establishments are compliant with the environmental clearances such as SEP,” Arzaga said.
He urged the PCSD to seek assistance from the provincial government to augment its legal duties.
“It seems that PCSD needs the help of the provincial government, perhaps at this point we look for the possibility of our own legal office helping them to run after violators of SEP Law,” he said.