AT least 49 business establishments in the country’s surfing capital—Siargao island in Surigao del Norte—have been directed to fix their environmental problems to ensure that “responsible ecotourism” will be sustained in the area.
Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cited the efforts of the Caraga regional office to swiftly respond on his order to identify tourism service providers that have violated environmental laws.
“This is an example of quick action by our regional officials,” he said.
“Within two months, they have finished surveying tourism establishments in the beautiful island and they have already separated those that are compliant with environmental laws and those that are not,” he added.
“Siargao is still one of the country’s best tourist destinations, but if we want to sustain its viability as an international surfing capital we must show that we are all helping to protect and conserve its environment.”
Based on data of the regional office, out of 148 businesses in Siargao Island, 49 establishments have been given notices of violations for violation of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act or the environmental impact statement system.
According to the DENR, the island’s landscape and seascape of Siargao has been classified as a protected area, but has become a favorite destination for international surfers and mass tourists.
The other violations of some businesses, mostly resorts and restaurants, were their failure to secure environmental compliance certificates and absence of sewage treatment facilities.
“Right now, they are serving notices of violations to the identified establishments, and by the end of the month, they aim to finish serving them, conducting the associated technical conferences, and determining whether to elevate the case to the pollution adjudication board,” Cimatu said.
He said the issuance of business permits by the local government without requiring an ECC, absence of sewage and septage treatment facilities, coastal encroachment, improper solid waste management, inadequate drainage system, and the inadequate utilization of the environmental fee must be carefully looked into.