Gov’t keeps eye on trash in Batanes
TUGUEGARAO CITY — The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is monitoring waste management in the northernmost province of Batanes, due to concerns that the rising number of tourists there could take its toll on the environment.
Cesar Siador, EMB Cagayan Valley regional director, said the provincial and town governments in Batanes needed to make sure the island would not face the same sanitary and land use problems now plaguing Boracay Island, which would be closed to tourists on April 26.
“We are alarmed by reports that tourist arrivals have risen by four times the number last year. I have assigned one of our EMB personnel to work closely with the local governments to make sure this concern is addressed,” he said.
Batanes is the country’s smallest province, both in land area and population, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
But from 5,000 visitors in 2013, tourist arrivals in Batanes had increased to 31,000 in 2017, which was double the province’s population of 17,000.
Officials said they expected this figure to rise, with the intensified promotion of northern islands as alternatives to the impending closure of Boracay.
The EMB, however, said Batanes officials needed to consider the carrying capacity of the islands as more tourists come in.
Siador said the EMB had been lenient to local governments in Batanes after they promised to address their growing garbage problem.
“We discovered that whenever [local governments] are ordered to [stop operating] an open dump, they would comply but only to open another in a different location,” he said.
Hegel Valones, Batanes tourism officer, said one of the measures undertaken by the province was to require shipping companies that bring in plastic products to ship out plastic waste.
“As part of the [corporate social responsibility] of the vessel owners, they offered free transport for the first shipping and big discounts for all the following shipments,” Valones said.
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