(File photo courtesy of Teng Formoso)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed concern over the slow pace of planned environmental rehabilitation efforts in the prime tourist town of El Nido.

Henry Adornado, regional executive director of DENR, said Tuesday that the current speed of efforts being exerted by the local government is not enough to make sure that full rehabilitation will be completed within this year.

“Based on my assessment, nasa 50 percent pa lang ang rehabilitation kasi marami pang dapat gawin. Naiintindihan naman namin ito dahil there are other activities being implemented,” he said.

Adornado said that the programs lined up were extensive, citing the re-walling of the Buena Suerte creek, identification of new sanitary landfill, construction of collection tank for wastewater, and installation of sewage treatment plant facility.

“Hindi lang masabay-sabay, but during our meeting [with the local government], they said they can shorten the number of months na kailangan nila,” he said.

The push for El Nido’s rehabilitation started in November 2018 following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to temporarily close Boracay and eyed for the rehabilitation of the country’s other top tourist destinations including this town.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) followed suit and asked the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to convene the El Nido Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Task Force to discuss the clean-up of Bacuit Bay and Corong-Corong outfall and its possible closure to avoid the risk of tourists and locals contracting diseases.

Municipal administrator Raffy Cabate on Wednesday said that the El Nido LGU has already submitted a Supplemental Investment Plan (SIP) to cover DENR’s request to increase the manpower pointing out that the salary for additional personnel was not anticipated in their earlier Annual Investment Plan.

“Nagdagdag na po kami ng mga tao para ma-augment sa road clearing at enforcement ng mga ini-impose na policies ng national at local ordinances. Mas kinakailangan sana namin ang mga technical personnel pero mas ma-proseso pa siya sa hiring kaya mas tumagal ang installation sa kanila,” Cabate said.

The budget for the El Nido rehabilitation program is now under the Municipal Development Council (MDC) as it undergoes budget appropriation in the municipal council.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.