Sep 25, 2020

Penalized El Nido resort denies causing pollution

Bacuit Bay in El Nido (file photo)

The management of Four Seasons Seaview Hotel in El Nido claimed Sunday that its inclusion in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) list of 10 establishments that are “gravely polluting” Bacuit Bay was a “mistake” because their establishment does not discharge wastewater in the protected inlet.

Four Seasons Seaview Hotel in Barangay Corong-Corong, a popular tourist enclave in El Nido, was among the hotels and restaurants that were issued cease and desist orders (CDOs) on May 10 by the DENR MIMAROPA regional office.

The issuance of the CDOs was part of the six-month massive rehabilitation and cleanup drive in the town.

Grace Claud, resort manager of the hotel, said their foul sewers do not discharge wastewater directly into Bacuit Bay.

The list of establishments in El Nido that were issued cease and desist orders.

She explained that what happened was when the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) conducted its routine check of their wastewater treatment facility, the Four Seasons Seaview Hotel was in the process of waiting for the local government unit’s (LGU) “dislodging schedule.”

“Four Seasons’ pipes do not go directly to the sea, parang… iba kasi ‘yong case namin. Kasi kami, our case is only ‘yong discharge… there’s no discharge na gawa ng leaking. Ang sa amin kasi our schedule of discharging sa LGU (local government unit) kasi, we’re just waiting. Nagkataon kasi na noong nag-check sila kumbaga, hindi pa kami na-schedule ng dislodging,” Claud said.

Claud lamented the DENR’s lack of information on what their individual violations are before it shared the information about the issuance of the CDOs to the media.

According to the DENR, the establishments “continuously discharged wastewaters without valid permits, which violates Rule 14.12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9275 or The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.”

It said “the hotels are discharging wastewaters that are greatly exceeding the allowable DENR standards “without any consideration of their impact and effect in the receiving body of water, in this case, Bacuit Bay.”

“Ako, I am part of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), we are the ones actively cleaning the shorelines, kumbaga I am aware of this matter. I just want to clarify lang na sana meron din silang classification or categorization kung anong mga violations kasi iba-iba naman kami. Hindi kami nag-di-discharge ng wastewater directly sa sea,” Claud pointed out.

She clarified further that when the EMB technical personnel visited their establishment in April, they have an open wastewater pipe that was under maintenance.

Claud said the information about the undergoing repair of the open pipe was also passed to the EMB team.

“Sinabi ko naman sa kanila ‘yan noong nag-check sila dito, tapos nag-sample nga sila sa mga tangke dinala nila sa Manila, which is ‘yong isang tangke ay condemned na at di na ginagamit ‘yon. Informed ako sa kinuha nilang sample… dito walang amoy, walang leak dyan sa labas or whatever, walang pumunta doon sa dagat. Walang nangyayaring ganoon. Hindi ko maintindihan kung anong case na ang nandoon. Kung naabutan sana nila kaming nag-discharge baka pa,” Claud added.

Based on the CDO she received, Claud said they are still operating because the DENR gave them seven days to make a response.

She said Four Seasons Seaview Hotel, which is partly owned by a Chinese businessman, has already consulted a lawyer to help them in the matter.

She also said the EMB has recommended for them to construct a modern wastewater treatment facility that will cost around P7 million.

“‘Yong LGU kasi, it’s not capable… di nila makaya ang wastewater discharge ng lahat ng mga establishments… umaasa lang sa kanila kaya ang tagal ng scheduling sa dislodging almost a month kasi nakapila ka pa, eh. Some of the other managers around the town, they said this sewage treatment plant will cost around P7 million,” she said.

Earlier, municipal administrator Rene Jay de la Calzada said the 10 establishments are just “initial” out of 80 more businesses that will be issued CDOs for non-compliance of the Clean Water Act.

“Ten pa lang ‘yan, 80 plus ‘yan. Nag-start sila the other day — ang alam ko within next week tatapusin ‘yan. Alam mo they have to close… okay, there are 10 na una. Sa 10 na ‘yon, ang Cuna Hotel ay for closure na ‘yong kanilang STP (sewage treatment plant). Kung ikaw hotel, kung wala kang puwedeng pagtapunan ng wastewater, magsarado ka na. If not you will be fined P200,000 per day na open ka,” De la Calzada told Palawan News also Saturday morning.

He said the LGU is no longer authorized to mediate for the establishments because the decision will already be under the Pollution Adjudication Board.

In February this year, the DENR announced the plan to declare Bacuit Bay as a water quality management area (WQMA) for it to be “swimmable” again pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 9275 or Clean Water Act of 2004.

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