Boracay, Manila Bay woes won’t happen in Sarangani, DENR assures
KORONADAL CITY—Environment officials are stepping up their watch over the health of Saragani Bay to avoid the tragedy that befell Boracay Island or Manila Bay, which have been undergoing rehabilitation due to pollution and other development-related problems.
Sabdullah Abubacar, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos), assured that Sarangani Bay’s waters were safe for swimming, noting that the DENR was determined to have this quality maintained.
Declared a protected area, the 215,950-hectare bay straddles the towns of Glan, Malapatan, Alabel and Maasim in Sarangani province, and General Santos City.
Apart from swimmers, its pristine waters have also drawn tourists wanting to try water sports and other activities.
Sarangani Bay’s most popular destination is the town of Glan which has fine, white sand beaches in Gumasa District, touted as the “Boracay of the South.”
Gumasa hosts the annual Sarangani Bay Festival, billed as one of the biggest summer beach parties in the country that has attracted thousands of tourists.
Beach resorts operate mainly in the bay’s Sarangani section while industrial plants, such as tuna canning factories, operate in General Santos City.
Abubacar said the DENR was keeping a close watch on the operations of beach resorts and other establishments to ensure that they follow regulatory standards.
Of particular concern is the water quality of the bay, which is regularly checked by the Protected Area Management Board, the local governments and other groups, he added.
Abubacar said Sarangani Bay was designated by the DENR in 2009 as a water quality management area (WQMA). According to the DENR, the designation as WQMA makes the bay a priority in the government’s protection measures to ensure that the water body will remain clean and healthy.
Alex Jimenez, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau, said resorts and industrial companies were subjected to environmental impact assessment, providing them a guide in ensuring how operations would not pollute Sarangani Bay.
“All results of the tests we have conducted in all the beaches along Sarangani Bay are good and we can assure the public that [the waters] are safe for swimming,” he said.
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