The El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) has recommended filing charges against the group of individuals who operated their jetski watercraft in El Nido town from June 6-9, despite repeated notices from local authorities.

Protected Area Superintendent Mildred Suza, during a provincial board inquiry on Tuesday conducted by the Committee on Environmental Protection, stated that a group of 14 members from the Iloilo Watercraft Association was observed jet skiing in various sites in El Nido and Taytay, which are within the ENTMRPA.

She said the charges will be filed pending the completion of their gathering of evidence.

The operation of “motorized” conveyance in protected areas without a permit from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is prohibited under Section 20(g) of Republic Act No. 7856, also known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. This provision has been amended by Republic Act No. 11038, which is commonly referred to as the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

Suza also refuted accusations made on social media that the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) did not take action upon receiving the incident report. She further explained that she attempted to contact some of the individuals involved, including the IWA, but her messages went unanswered.

She mentioned that their team recorded a total of 14 jetskiers, but they were only able to identify the following individuals: Vincent Tajanlangit, Jerry Collado, Benjie Bastian, Dean Sanson, Julian Juan Tong, Ian Golez, and Paul Tinsay, who had posted their jetski activities on social media.

“When the first sighting of a jetski [happened] on June 6, immediately, I instructed the assistant park superintendent to investigate the origin and identification of persons or group responsible, and [submitted a] spot report for [the] information of our DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) higher office,” Suza said.

“The group were told that jet skiing is prohibited inside the protected area and they were advised to immediately coordinate with PAMO but the message was ignored,” she added.

The same actions were taken after the jet skiers were sighted on the following days.

Suza added that assistant PASU Jenuel Casel and park rangers met with the group of jet skiers and reiterated that jet skiing is not allowed inside the protected area. The group claimed to have coordinated with the local government of El Nido, the police, and the coast guard, but these agencies denied the group’s claims. In the afternoon, another jetski was spotted.

Casel stated that he also sought assistance from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard. However, he further mentioned that no action was taken by the law enforcement agencies.

Suza told members of the environmental protection committee that as a recommendation, the PAMO sought the issuance of a Notice of Violation against the IWA members and to seek guidance from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office regarding violations based on the 2019-05 IRR of E-NIPAS act of 2018.

She said that aside from E-NIPAS law, the group also violated provisions of the Protected Area Management Board resolution prohibiting jetski and other motorized sports equipment inside the protected area and the Tourism Code of El Nido.

Meanwhile, Committee on Environmental Protection chair Board Member Ryan Maminta said that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will wait for the final recommendation and action of the PAMB before they take further action on the matter.

He said concerned government agencies, particularly law enforcement personnel will also be summoned to another meeting to find out why they did not respond to the request for assistance in the apprehension of the jet skiers.

“We will also come up with a recommendation as to the legislative actions to be taken. One thing mentioned is to allow regulated activities and areas that can be allowed,” Maminta said.

“Another thing is for the strict enforcement of the PAMB resolution which is based on the E-NIPAS law,” he stated, noting the lack of personnel of PAMO enforcement team.

“Maybe we can recommend for the creation of an enforcement network together with the LGU and national government agencies,” he said.