A welcome move from President Duterte
posted 11 days ago  ·  
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The recent directive of President Duterte to the DILG to monitor all island resorts and beach tourism destinations in the country is a welcome move.

For a province that seeks to be known as an eco-tourism destination, Catanduanes has to make sure its resorts and beaches as compliant with national laws and local ordinances as far as environmental conservation, building standards and easements are concerned.

Also slated for inspection and evaluation are the status of sewage treatment facilities, power and water supply, and implementation of zoning and land use regulations by the local government units.

Knowing that closing a tourism site impacts on people’s livelihood and the local economy, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has urged all LGUs not to wait for sanctions or interventions by the national government.

"We should all learn from the Boracay experience. Let's not wait until your beaches turn into another cesspool," he says. “Complacency is tantamount to dereliction of duty. Local chief executives are accountable of regulating tourism businesses and enforcing critical environmental laws, rules and regulations, and local ordinances. .

Beach goers know which resorts have built on the easement zones, which of them are actually implementing solid waste management plans, and are complying with standards set for tourist accommodations, including the provision of lifeguards.

These requirements would most likely have the attention of the DILG, along with the LGU’s enforcement of its zoning and land use ordinances.

There is no sewage treatment facility in any of the 11 towns. As far as the power and water supply services are concerned, LGUs can escape blame for the brownout-plagued Catanduanes grid as beyond their control. Their responsibility with regards to water service, particularly in Virac, would undergo greater scrutiny.

Once the DILG submits its report and presumably calls on the LGU officials as well as resort owners and operators to discuss the findings, it is best that the latter listen and follow the recommendations to the latter lest Malacanang issue a closure order a la Boracay.

But along with the focus on beaches and resorts, the LGUs should at the same time be assessed as to their implementation of Republic Act 9003.

There is no bigger disappointment for a tourist, whether foreign or domestic, to find plastics and other waste floating on the sea or strewn at its bottom.

More importantly, as demonstrated by a scientific study of human feces, the island and its people must be made to realize that each piece of plastic we throw with abandon by the roadside ends up in the ocean, gets pulverized into microplastics which then comes back to everyone’s stomach through the fish they eat.

As French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1826: "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” If he were alive today, he would have been sickened to find people eating their own trash.
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