Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. Photo courtesy of Napocor via Wikipedia.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu wants the rehabilitation of Puerto Galera to follow the footsteps of Boracay and Manila Bay in a bid to protect and preserve the country’s prime tourism destinations.

In his visit to Puerto Galera last week, Cimatu ordered Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) MIMAROPA regional executive director Henry Adornado to create a DENR office in Calapan City to ensure that the famous tourist destination is properly managed.

He also instructed Adornado to facilitate the transfer of the regional office from Roxas Boulevard in Manila to Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro, pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10879 that makes the city the regional center for MIMAROPA.

“It will never be easy. But I can already see the strengthened collaboration between the DENR regional task force and the local government unit in saving Puerto Galera,” Cimatu in a press statement.

Task Force Puerto Galera (TFPG) was created in February 2018 to spearhead the cleanup of the island and to ensure strict implementation of environmental laws including RA 9275 (Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004) and Presidential Decree No. 705 (Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines).

“I commend and thank you for your sacrifices but please be reminded that we are protecting Puerto Galera not only for ourselves but more importantly for the generations to come,” he added.

TFPG is composed of personnel from the DENR and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). The task force works closely with the provincial and municipal government, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Tourism (DOT).

“What we did and are doing in Boracay and Manila Bay, we will replicate in Puerto Galera,” Cimatu said.

On his visit to the island, Cimatu also checked on the construction of a P100 M modern sewerage treatment plant (STP) in Barangay Sabang, Puerto Galera. The STP can treat up to 1,750 cubic meters of wastewater per day and is already in commissioning stage. It is expected to be fully operational this month.

The DENR chief thanked Puerto Galera mayor Rocky Ilagan for actively participating in the island’s rehabilitation by facilitating the construction of the treatment plant to address the urgent issues of water pollution.

Cimatu also visited Brgy. San Isidro is a prospective site of a second STP on the island.

In the past years, water quality in Sabang Bay has shown high levels of coliform. The poor water quality was attributed to the growing number of commercial establishments along the island’s easement zone that discharges partially treated wastewater into the bay, and the inadequate wastewater treatment facilities in the island.