To address environmental concerns in Coron, El Nido and Puerto Galera, the Regional Development Council in Mimaropa (RDC IV-B) passed Resolution No. 2018-062-693 or ‘Urging Concerned National Government Agencies and Local Government Units to Strictly Implement Environmental Laws in Tourism Development Areas in the Region’. This was during the RDC First Quarter Full Council Meeting on March 20 held in Calapan.
Involved agencies were requested to submit to RDC their action plan for three years, to resolve environmental issues in the identified areas one month upon approval of the RDC resolution. The involved agencies are MIMAROPA offices of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Departments of Tourism (DOT), Health (DOH), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and municipal governments of Puerto Galera, El Nido, and Coron.
The resolution was passed based from EMB MIMAROPA’s report on the degraded water quality, illegal occupation in easement and timberland areas, and inadequate sewage facilities in Palawan tourism development areas (White Beach and Sabang Beach in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Coron Bay in Coron and Bacuit Bay in El Nido, and Snake Island in Puerto Princesa City).
The EMB MIMAROPA also reported that coliform bacteria levels in Sabang Beach, Coron Bay, and Bacuit Bay exceeded safety standards for swimming and other human contact activities. The report was extensively discussed during the special meeting of the Regional Tourism Committee held on March 19 at NEDA Regional Office in MIMAROPA (NRO IV-B) in Calapan City and presided over by Regional Director Raul Anlocotan of NRO IV-B. The Committee then endorsed to RDC the need to take immediate action to address the concerns identified in the report.
The RDC recognizes the importance of tourism in providing investment and employment opportunities in MIMAROPA. It also stresses the need to further strengthen environmental regulations to maintain the ecological structure of the areas which is necessary to achieve the region’s long term goal of becoming the “Destination of Choice by 2022”.