No El Nido closure amid rehab efforts, says Puyat
The Department of Tourism (DOT) assured on Wednesday that the island resort town of El Nido, Palawan will not be closed off as the government announced plans to rehabilitate the famous tourist destination.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a radio interview over DZMM that there are a lot of people asking if the island resort will be closed.
“Hindi naman namin isasara, cause it would be unfair for those establishments that have been following the law. Marami namang establishments na hindi pasaway at sumusunod sa batas,” Puyat said.
(We will not close the island because it would be unfair to establishments that have been following the law. And there are many establishments following the law.)
It was earlier reported that 22 establishments on the island will be closed due to various violations.
She said that in a meeting with the mayor of El Nido and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the DOT discussed a number problems surrounding the island and the steps they would take to address and resolve those concerns.
Among the issues raised is the overcrowding and pollution in the lagoons.
“So pinagusapan lang namin ni Mayor, iyong mga let’s say iyong, ako mismo noong nasa El Nido ako napansin ko overcrowded iyong mga lagoon, madumi, may nagtatapon sa lagoon. May nagluluto pa and so I told them you have to have an ordinance banning this,” she said.
(The mayor and me talked about issues which I had experienced myself such as the overcrowding in the lagoon, the dirty areas and some people throwing trash. There are also people who cook there. So I told them you have to have an ordinance banning this.)
“Because kailangan nating pangalagaan yung lagoon. Ang dumi dumi na hindi gaya ng when we used to go to El Nido, yung very peaceful, ngayon para siyang palengke ang daming nagpaparty on top of the, nagluluto nagtatapon,” she added.
(We need to protect the lagoon. It’s very dirty now compared to the El Nido we know in the past which is peaceful. Not it’s like a public market. There are people who party, cook and throw trash there.)
Puyat also noted that the rehabilitation process will prioritize the delineation of the standard easement zone and fixing the island’s wastewater management.
“Pinagusapan namin yung wastewater, how they…basura…(We talked about wastewater, what they do with trash) So right now we’re in the process, we will be helping them, six months of rehabilitation, we’ll see what we can do without closing El Nido,” she said.
The tourism chief added that they also discussed potable water and certain reports that people are getting sick. So there is a need as well to check the coliform level.
When asked about the license granted to establishments operating in El Nido, the Tourism head warned: “If they do not follow the laws, then they will be closed.”
Earlier, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said that top government officials have agreed to launch the rehabilitation of El Nido due to worsening problems of garbage and unregulated construction of structures.
This developed weeks after Boracay was reopened to tourists on October 26.
The government closed down Boracay for rehabilitation in April, as President Rodrigo Duterte compared the famous tourist destination to a “cesspool” amid various environmental problems hounding the island. /ee
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