After Boracay: Siargao, Samal, Coron up for monitoring

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People walk along the shore below the Cloud 9 surfing view deck in Siargao during low tide in this April 2017 photo. -- BW FILE PHOTO

ESTABLISHMENTS IN three island tourist destinations — Siargao and Samal in Mindanao, and Coron in Palawan — are at the top of the Department of Tourism’s (DoT) monitoring list as government starts cracking down on violators of environmental laws in Boracay.

“We will be monitoring all the resorts nationwide… we have regional directors of DoT to check every now and then,” Tourism Secretary Wanda T. Teo said at a press conference in Davao City last Friday, Feb. 16, for the launching of the Go South campaign.

Ms. Teo said there have been reports of establishments in Siargao, Samal, and Coron that are practicing improper sewage disposal, similar to the problem in Boracay.

“After Boracay, there’s Coron and Siargao,” she said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started issuing on Feb. 14 Notices of Violation to 51 establishments in Boracay out of the 300 recommended for closure by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The crackdown comes after President Rodrigo R. Duterte threatened to close the entire island to tourists if the matter is not addressed within six months.

Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, in the same press conference, said one of the first steps that will be taken is setting up a DoT office in Siargao, an island popular for surfing.

In Samal, officially named the Island Garden City of Samal, Ms. Teo said they will tap the private sector’s assistance in checking resorts and other establishments for compliance to environmental requirements.

“Beaches in Samal will learn that they have to take care kasi eventually they will be like Boracay if they will not take care of their environment. Magtulungan tayo (We have to help each other), with the government and the private sector,” Ms. Teo said.

Ms. Teo said the lessons from Boracay is “a bitter pill that people have to swallow.” — Maya M. Padillo