LGU, DILG urged to demolish illegal structures in El Nido
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – Malacañang on Wednesday urged the local government of Palawan and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to immediately demolish illegal structures built along El Nido town’s foreshore in violation of zoning and easement laws.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who was in Puerto Princesa City for a speaking engagement, told the Inquirer that President Duterte wants local government units (LGUs) to take the initiative in implementing environmental laws.
“As in the case of Boracay, the President has stated na kung hindi naging pabaya ang local officials hindi yun mangyayari. Sa case ng El Nido, the LGU should take note of that or else sila ang tatamaan,” Roque said.
Roque said the findings by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showing that most of the commercial establishments in the town have committed violations of environmental and zoning laws, are sufficient grounds for the LGUs to take action.
“The jurisdiction of the DENR is different from the DILG which is mandated to implement the laws,” Roque said.
Earlier this week, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the eviction of 32 businesses found to have been in violation of the three-meter coastal easement provided under the Philippine Water Code for classified urban areas like El Nido. This, even as local officials of the municipality have sought to allow the affected establishments a grace period before they voluntarily demolish the structures.
“That is not what the President wanted,” Roque said, warning that delaying action to correct the problems in El Nido “will be blamed on local officials.”
Duterte had earlier threatened to close Boracay Island for six months if its sewage and beach pollution problems are not addressed.
A task force formed by the DENR for El Nido last week determined that nearly all, except for three small establishments, of around 300 tourism-related businesses in the town have violations ranging from operating without an environmental compliance certificate or local permits, no waste treatment facilities or building structures beyond the easement zone.
The DENR has said it would begin issuing Notice of Violations (NOVs) to all the erring establishments and compel them to pay penalties ranging from P20,000 to P200,000 per day.
El Nido is Palawan’s most visited natural destination, with tourist arrivals last year peaking at over 200,000.
The town has been cited by several international tourism magazines, including National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast Magazine, as the factor they designated Palawan “world’s best island.” /lb
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