File photo courtesy of Palawan Provincial Information Office

The Palawan Provincial Board (PB) urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday to compel other local government units (LGUs) to take an active role in the preservation and cleaning up of their coastal areas.

Board Member Clarito Demaala IV said the LGUs should engage their residents to help in the removal of trash and other debris from beach areas and waterways that empty in them to avoid water pollution.

He said municipal governments should already think about relocating their informal settlers because they largely contribute to the water quality problem due to the absence of proper sewerage.

“Mahirap magturo pero kung naumpisahan na sa tatlong munisipyo sana ay ituloy na sa buong probinsya. There are some areas na hindi maikakaila na may informal settlers na walang proper sewerage,” Demaala said.

Demaala raised the concern to former provincial environment and natural resources officer (PENRO) Felizardo Cayatoc, who represented the DENR in a question hour called by the PB regarding the clampdown in Coron.

Demaala said aside from San Vicente, Coron, and El Nido, other municipalities with informal settlers occupying coastal easement zones should already be compelled to relocate them.

Board Member Roseller Pineda said the DENR should also conduct a study and find a solution for residents who will be affected by the relocation.

“Dapat siguro maging advance tayo pagdating sa ganito. Ito tatlong bayan palang, nagkakaganyan na. Ang Palawan napakahaba ng coastal area at karamihan sa ating mga kababayan diyan tumitumitira. Sana naman mapag-aralan kung anong mangyayari sa mga apektado,” Pineda said.

Cayatoc, on the other hand, said Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu has already issued a marching order to all community ENROs to look into areas with environmental problems.

He said they need to prioritize the areas with the most number of tourists.

Cayatoc also asked for the cooperation of the provincial government to solve the environmental problems.

In 2018, the DENR expanded its cleanup drive to tourism destinations in Palawan that started in El Nido, Coron, and San Vicente.

In March last year, the municipal government of El Nido started issuing notices to establishments in Barangays Masagana, Buena Suerte, Maligaya, and Corong-Corong fronting Bacuit Bay.

This was followed by another set of eviction notices issued by the intergovernmental agency Task Force Coron to erring establishments located in Barangays Tagumpay, Poblacion 1, Poblacion 3, and Poblacion 5.

In September, the municipal government of San Vicente also started the crackdown on easement zone violators in Barangay Port Barton.

An estimated 100 establishments were shut down and 80 structures were ordered removed in the barangay for breaching the easement zone and violating the San Vicente municipal code on road setbacks.

“Kasama po ‘yan [sa iniutos] pero paunti-unti lang. Makakaasa kayo na aayusin po ‘yan. Kaya himihingi din kami ng tulong from the province and other partners because it is not too late para ayusin ang mga problema,” Cayatoc said.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.