DENR hands 49 Siargao establishments notices of violations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 20) — After its crackdown on erring Boracay establishments, the Environment Department now turns its attention towards international surfing destination Siargao.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it has given 49 of the island's 148 businesses notices of violations (NOVs) for violating either the country's Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, or the Environmental Impact Statement System.

The DENR ordered the erring businesses -- mostly resorts and restaurants-- to "address environmental problems" to ensure responsible ecotourism in the Surigao del Norte island.

The establishments' violations include failing to secure required environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) from DENR, and the absence of sewage treatment facilities.

The Department aims to finish serving violations by the end of March, after which it will conduct associated technical conferences and determine if it will elevate the case to the Pollution Adjudication Board.

"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." Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

Aside from establishments with violations, regional environmental officers noted inconsistent water quality, issuances of business permits without an ECC, absence of sewage treatment facilities, and coastal encroachment in the island.

It also cited improper solid waste management, inadequate drainage systems, and "inadequate utilization" of the island's environmental fee.

Siargao, which is home to many endemic flora and fauna, is protected under Proclamation No. 902, signed by former President Fidel Ramos in 1996. It is home to endemic flora and fauna, including the Mindanao tarictic, Rufous hornbill, Philippine magpie-robin.

Tourism on the island has boomed in the recent years as it gained fame as a premier surfing destination.

To help address environmental issues on the island, DENR-CARAGA officials have asked for the fast-tracking of the approval of a 10-year solid waste management plan by local government units, support for the construction of sanitary landfills, and coordination on sewage collection and disposal, among others.

"This should be the template by which other regions should conduct their inspection and monitoring activities. We want to be fast, but follow the law at the same time," Cimatu said.

The crackdown on Siargao's establishments comes amid the heightened government scrutiny on popular tourist destinations, especially Boracay.

Last month, the government served 81 Boracay establishments notices of violations after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Cimatu to clean up the world-famous island.

READ: DENR issues notices of violation to 81 erring Boracay establishments