Sep 28, 2020

DILG recommends closure of El Nido beaches

(File photo) A team from the DENR posts a notice to the public regarding the cease and desist order (Photos from EMB MIMAROPA and El Nido PAO)

The Department of of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is pushing for the closure of two El Nido beaches.

DILG secretary Eduardo Año has recommended to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Tourism (DOT) the temporary suspension of any activity in four poblacion barangays with outfalls that contribute to poor water quality and algae prevalence.

The recommendations were made by Año on the basis of the DENR Environment Management Bureau’ (EMB) Bacuit Bay coastal and outfall water quality assessment held on June 20-22, 2019.

Per assessment, Brgys. Corong-Corong, Buena Suerte, Masagana, and Maligaya will now be covered by the swimming ban due to coliform contamination from two outfalls.

In his recommendation letter dated July 15 to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Año noted that Bacuit Bay and Corong-Corong outfalls are now in dreadful condition, with one having a fecal coliform level of more than 3.4M MPN/100 ML.

He said the closure of these selective areas in El Nido aims to prevent tourists and locals from contracting diseases.

Año noted this situation was caused by the “presence of informal settler families, non-enforcement of easement regulations on outfalls, and unregulated dry-docking and mooring activities.”

To discuss the probable rehabilitation and clean-up of Bacuit Bay and Corong-Corong Outfall, Año also suggested the creation of an Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Task Force (IARTF) El Nido, which will be composed of the DENR, DILG, and DOT.

Once Puyat and Cimatu approved his recommendation, the Corong-Corong Outfall and Bacuit Bay will be temporarily closed from water activities to preserve the area and prevent disease contractions among the public.

Año also noted it was through the pursuant of Cabinet Action File No. 535-091118-15-16-17 dated September 11, 2018 that the DOT, DENR, and DILG are continuously monitoring and supervising every island resort in the country to avoid the Boracay Island closure scenario.

DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco V. Densing III went to El Nido last June 21 for monitoring and inspection.

Live streaming his visit to El Nido, Densing expressed disappointment over the state of the Estero de Magdalena and Estero de El Nido — two outfalls that dispense effluents in Corong-Corong beach and Bacuit Bay.

Densing said smelly wastewater, floating feces, and murky water were being discharged from the outfalls.

Used oil from motorized boats was also disposed improperly in Bacuit Bay, he stated.

Densing said some of the residents told them that even the fish they catch in Bacuit Bay are “greasy”.

“Minsan nakakahuli sila ng isda doon kapag niluluto hindi na raw nila makain dahil malangis-langis ‘yong isda. Ang langis naman nanggagaling sa mga bangka dito,” he said

Densing said it upsets him that El Nido has a problem with wastewater that could pollute Bacuit Bay.

While frustrated with the situation in El Nido, he said the dilemma is still “rectifiable” through the combined efforts of the local government and residents.

Densing said DILG is going to make a recommendation to its partner-agencies DOT and DENR to resolve the problems besetting El Nido.

However, Densing did not mention earlier what DILG will exactly recommend to the other two government agencies.

One of the most popular international tourist destinations, El Nido is known worldwide for its coral reefs, white sand beaches, and limestone cliffs.

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