DENR orders 14 establishments to vacate Puerto Galera beaches

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked 14 establishments to voluntarily remove structures on easement zones along beaches of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.

Vicente Tuddao, Assistant Regional Director of DENR MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) and chair of Task Force Galera, personally served the notices to vacate last Friday. The establishments were given 30 days to comply.

"We hope they will be responsible enough to remove the structures they have built on easement zones within that period. The sooner we can start the rehabilitation of Sabang and White Beach, the better," Tuddao said.

The establishments were Tina's Sunset Cottages, Restaurant & Dive Center, Ocean Dream Lodge, Paradise Dive Zone Resort, Corp., Pink & Black Lodging House, Montani Beach Resort, Sabang Inn, Sabang Divers, Mangosteen Restaurant , Dive Dojo, Mermaid Resort Charletan, Inc., Modem Development Company Inc., Captn Gregg, Eddie's Place Bar & Restaurant, Marginor Diner & Snack, and I Dive at Casa Mia.

They were situated at the three-meter easement zones along Sabang and White Beach in Puerto Galera. The town is known for its beaches and leisure activities, such as scuba diving and snorkeling.

"The absence of proper wastewater disposal facility, aggravated by overcrowding of structures along the beaches, is seen as a major source of coliform contamination of Sabang and White Beach. Water quality tests in five sampling stations in Puerto Galera from 2009 to 2017 show high fecal coliform levels," the DENR said in a statement.

It added Task Force Galera also inspected establishments for compliance to regulations, such as securing discharge permit, environmental compliance certificate, permit to operate, hazardous waste registration, compliance to solid waste segregation, and having a Pollution Control Officer.

DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Natividad Bernardino said notices of violations shall also be served in the coming days to establishments found violating environmental rules.

Bernardino added that DENR is trying to rehabilitate Puerto Galera not only for tourism, but also for scientific researches.

This comes amid the rehabilitation of Boracay island. Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre had earlier said the government will focus next on the conditions of other destinations in its bid to address environmental concerns.

"Puerto Galera is going to be visited next by the inter-agency task force. We have received reports of the conditions there, and we want again to help rehabilitate," Alegre said.

Alegre added they will also look into El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Siargao island in Surigao del Norte, and Bohol.