Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Roy Cimatu would not like Bohol to follow world-famous Boracay island’s serious environmental indecency as the former is addressing its concerns.
He would like the Boholanos to keep treasuring their beaches on Panglao island, considered the image of Bohol tourism, and in Anda where beach quality is acclaimed by some tourists to be finer than Boracay’s.
The secretary grieved over what he calls “overdevelopment” in Boracay “without thinking of the (negative) consequences” so that the whole island will be likely closed for months to allow remedial measures while the coastal environment relieves from stress.
Numerous resorts and other tourist establishments on Panglao island have also beenissued notices of violations of environmental and sanitation laws, regulations,and policies, specifically on sewage or wastewater management and easement zone.
But Cimatu cited the serious effort of the Boholano stakeholders in coordination with the appropriate agencies like the DENR in correcting the mistakes.
The DENR secretary attended the Panglao-Dauis and Tagbilaran City Executive Council (PADTEC) Board Meeting led by Gov. Edgar Chatto at the Bohol Tropics on Monday.
Panglao Mayor Pedro Fuertes, Dauis Mayor Marietta Sumaylo and Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II were also present.
SURGE City Program Coordinator Rosalinda Paredes presented to the secretary an overview of the council, originally called PITEC (for Panglao Island and Tagbilaran City Executive Council).
An audio-visual presentation of Panglao island’s marine resources was also done, courtesy of Darwin Menorias, director, PADTEC Environment Protection,and Preservation Working Group.
Regional Director William Cuñado of the DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) reported the water quality of Panglao island coastal waters.
As of last quarter of 2017, Panglao island’s total coliform level was 284.15mpn/1000ml (most probable number of coliforms per milliliters of seawater), far below the standard of 1000mpn/1000ml.
The fecal content of the total coliform level is the one determining the degree of effluent discharge or contamination.
As of the same period, Panglao island’s fecal coliform level was 77.59mpn/200ml, also far below the 200mpn/200ml standard set under the new DENR administrative order.
The secretary said Boracay’s coliform level has even hit between 20,000mpn and 30,000 mpn.
The DENR cited the “best practices” of the Amorita Resort and Bellevue Resort, both in Panglao, in waste management which have earned for them the ASEAN Green Award for Sustainable Resort and Green Hotel Operation for 2018-2020.
Joined by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Sec. Ernesto Pernia, Cimatu strolled along the Alona beach area in Panglao and saw some structures that have violated the 20-meter easement zone on the following day, Tuesday.
The easement zone violation issue was also tackled with the secretary as reported during the PADTEC conference by DENR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Eduardo Inting.
Peter Ross Retutal of the Provincial Planning and Development Office and PADTEC Secretariat presented to the secretary the policy actions and initiatives to address the different environmental concerns of Panglao island.
These were identified during the separate convergence meetings with the DENR-EMB, LGUs and other concerned called by Chatto even before the DENR secretary was to schedule a Bohol visit.
Cimatu asked today’s leaders to quantify this early Panglao island’s carrying capacity and visualize what can obtain in the prime island tourist destination 30 years from now and beyond
The new Bohol Panglao Airport, which is set for commercial operation starting this year, is intended for international tourists, Cimatu said.
Taking into account the Boracay experience, Panglao has to have a sewage masterplan that considers the island’s physical development and human activities three decades or more from now.
In Boracay, Cimatu said, the decades-old small sewage pipes have blown out, so that the waste water spread to the drainage and all the way to the sea without reaching any treatment facilities.
“Nagkaloko-loko na dun,” the secretary said.
The plan for waste water treatment facilities in the Alona beach area in Panglao and in Bingag, Dauis was presented in powerpoint to Cimatu by Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II, who also gave the secretary a copy, during the PADTEC meeting.
Panglao island consists of the towns of Panglao and Dauis.
The secretary was also apprised of the waste water treatment component of the airport project by the Japanese Airport Consultants (JAC) and Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Further, Cimatud assailed the uncontrolled Boracay development by concrete structures invading the timberlands, forests,and wetlands, aggravating the environmental rape of the world-class resort island.
Owners would even show real property tax declarations over the areas which are otherwise inalienable and non-disposable.
“We don’t like all these to happen in Panglao,Siargao (in Davao) and El Nido (in Palawan), the secretary said.
Cimatu sadly noted, however, that “97%” of the El Nido occupants have been found out to be environmentally non-compliant.
Cimatu said he is “positive of tourism in Bohol to prosper.”
“Governor, you’re in the right direction,” Cimatu told Chatto at the PADTEC meeting.
While entire Boracay’s temporary closure appears imminent based on the recommendation of the DENR, Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Interior and Local Government, Cimatu hopedBohol could assert itself to be an environmental model.
The secretary even praised Bohol’s countryside teeming with trees and greenery, and the paved roads that cut across former insurgency hotbeds.
Cimatu also graced the 37th Anniversary of the 47th Infantry Battalion, which launched the Peace Pocket Forest Project and joined the province’s mini-HEAT Caravan in Balilihan.
A good soldier, Cimatu was a former 47th IB commander based in Aklan, a province in the northwest party of Panay island, and had cleared the area of the insurgency, paving the way for the tourism boom in Boracay.
He “commanded” his former infantry battalion to continue the partnership with the local government units and DENR in sustaining environmental peace in Bohol
Cimatu recalled he could stroll around Boracay island, at ease with the virgin nature, in the 1980s, but now “you have to tear down buildings there to make a standard barangay road.”
Even the puka shells which first made Boracay popular have been “gone,” the secretary said.
Cimatu challenged today’s children of Bohol to take good care of their island-province, “Bohol is in your hands. We avoid another Boracay.” (Ven rebo Arigo)