The matter of Boracay and the impending mandatory closure of its various business establishments to make time for a six-month period of environmental rehabilitation has been a contentious issue for many involved. The struggle between those trying to realize President Duterte’s directive of cleaning up the island he had called a “cesspool”, and those who rail on behalf of the many tourism industry workers who are bound to lose their jobs in the wake of such a prolonged closure, has been hard-fought inside Congress and outside. But now Boracay is not the only one being looked over for possible rehab.
CNN Philippines reports that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has begun looking into the ecological footprint being left by business establishments on the coastal resort municipality of Puerto Galera, on Oriental Mindoro. In particular, they are now calling on at least 14 tourism establishments to start removing whatever structures they have emplaced on the famed White Beach of Puerto Galera, especially where they are found to be built on the easement zones. Notices ordering the vacating of the indicated premises have been delivered by the DENR to the establishments in question on Friday last week, April 13.
DENR MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director Vicente Tuddao, who handed over the notices to the establishments in person, said that these businesses were given a period of 30 days to comply with the vacate order on their own volition. “We hope they will be responsible enough to remove the structures they have built on easement zones within that period,” he noted. “The sooner we can start the rehabilitation of Sabang and White Beach, the better.” Said easement zones cover areas of about three meters along Puerto Galera’s resort areas of White Beach and Sabang, popular destinations for both diving and snorkeling.
A further statement by the DENR notes that Sabang and White Beach have been discovered to be suffering from significant amounts of coliform contamination. A contributing factor to this potential health hazard is the gradual overcrowding of business structures on the beach itself, on top of Puerto Galera lacking a waste-water disposal facility for the benefit of their tourism and hospitality sector. The high levels of coliform from trace amounts of human fecal matter was quantified in a series of water quality tests done in five sampling stations of Puerto Galera over an eight-year period lasting from 2009 to 2017.
DENR’s Galera task force will check to see if the 14 establishments will comply with the directives in time. Meanwhile, the Boracay closure is still set in stone for April 26. Despite this, a planned Macau-RP casino project on the island will still push through construction after the rehabilitation period.
Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines