Right before she stepped down, suspended Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero said the issue of coliform infestation in the waters around the town has shades of politics.
Montero spoke to the media in reaction to published reports (not in the Tribune) about alarming levels of coliform bacteria contamination.
The mayor immediately ordered the municipal health office (MHO) to have some water sampled since, as per protocol, the town has yet to receive any report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about the coliform levels in Panglao’s waters.
She said she only read about the issue on the coliform on the newspaper.
At the same time, she dismissed the allegations as a mere political. She also reiterated Panglao’s waters remain safe for tourists to bathe and for other water-based activities.
“There is no investor that will kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” said Montero in a statement aired over GMA News TV’s State of the Nation.
Montero is likely telling people that investors will not make any moves to injure their investments and shoo the tourists away.
Panglao is about 40 minutes away from Tagbilaran City. Natural beaches and the presence of the New Bohol Airport transformed the town to become Bohol’s tourism crown jewel.
Montero’s chief critic, Councilor Rogelin Degoma said the town council is trying to prevent any damage done to the waters of Panglao.
The town council, she said, will push for the three to five chambers in the treatment of the wastewater. At the same time, require all huge resorts in the town to have their wastewater treatment facility.
There has been indeed an escalation in the levels in coliform in the waters of Panglao.
However, experts say, the levels are far from hoisting a red flag. Special attention is neededin the vicinity of Alona Beach. The area is teeming with tourism activity, and it is causing the unusually high levels of coliform.
Alona Beach is home to almost 100 various business entities including dive shops, bars,and restaurants.
A couple of weeks ago, reports said tourists have been complaining about the water having oil purportedly coming from the motor bancas operating and anchored in front of the various resorts in Alona.
Such motor bancas return to the scene after being kept away when there are huge events such as the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Another concern is that some folks are disposing of their waste while in their respectivewatercraft. The governor raised this as the DENR report pointed out folks use the sea as their comfort room, adding to the fecal coliform count.
The concern to look after the water quality is resonated not only for Panglao but all other local government units where resorts are located. Concernis also aired for Tagbilaran City, as there is a need to find out the water quality along the coasts, said the governor.
The concern over the water quality in Panglao came about after reports came out., not in the Tribune, where the water quality problem has been perceived as a “walking time bomb.”
The information about the water quality in Panglao has been seen as a powder keg that can “paralyze” the tourism industry.
Reports surfaced about water testing data showing high amounts of coliform bacteria.
If not attended, the coliform bacteria may cause health problems to the tourists and cause ruin to the reputation of the tourism industry in the province.
However, there have been no reports of people getting sick due to water-borne diseases.
Coliform bacteria exist everywhere; even our bodies have these kinds of bacteria. The critical thing to look at is whether the amount of coliform bacteria surpasses the tolerable levels, which can be a cause for concern.
The coliform bacteria are known to be a gram-negative, rod-shaped, non-spore forming which can be either motile or non-motile.
Fecal coliform, on the other hand, is a major concern. The bacteria come from the intestines of warm-blooded animals.
In measuring water quality, the amount of fecal coliform most often is being used as the yardstick.
In general, increased levels of fecal coliform indicate a failure in water treatment, a break in the integrity of the water distribution system, possible contamination with pathogens.
High levels of fecal coliform can increase the risk of gastroenteritis.
Possible sources of fecal coliform include the fecal matter from humans or animals. (DSA)