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Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez has filed a proposed ordinance prohibiting the smoking and throwing of cigarette butts in all beaches in Palawan.

Alvarez said in his proposed ordinance that aside from the harmful effects of cigarettes, there are billions of cigarette butts being thrown every day that cause serious environmental damage.

Based on the study of the World Health Organization (WHO), Alvarez said 30 percent of items collected in coastal cleanups are cigarette butts which take at least 10 years to rot and five centuries to a millennium to fully decomposed.

Alvarez explained that the measure aims to protect the environment as well as the public.

“The officials in Palawan give importance to health and environmental concerns. Palawan takes pride in its world-class beaches and recognizes tourism as a major contributor to our economic growth with the responsibility of maintaining our shores,” he said.

The proposed measure will be implemented and monitored by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in coordination with the barangays and municipal counterparts.

Alvarez said that there should be at least one deputized resort employee that will closely monitor their jurisdiction.

In his proposal, any person who will be caught smoking or throwing cigarettes in the prohibited area will be penalized by paying fines of P1,500 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 for the third offense.

However, managers or resort owners will also be penalized if they fail to warn and report violators. An amount of P2,000 for the first offense, P4,000 for the second, and P10,000 for the third offense will be charged.

“Owners of accommodations and entertainment establishments should take part in the information dissemination by placing pamphlets in the reception. In case there is a failure to warn or report the violators, a penalty should be imposed upon the president, manager, owner or operator,” Alvarez added.

In addition, Alvarez said that 30 percent of the collected fine will be given to the person who reported the case while the 70 percent should proceed to the barangay fund that will be allocated for health and environmental programs.

The proposed ordinance has been referred to the committee on environment and natural resources for further discussion.