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Just a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement regarding the environmental conditions of El Nido and Coron, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) sent in teams for the intensive inspection and review of two municipalities.
The stern warning of PRRD created a buzz among the netizens and many are anxiously waiting if indeed the World’s Best Island could be the next to be closed for rehabilitation.
But fortunately, according to local officials, there will be no closure for El Nido as there is already an ongoing rehabilitation effort since the middle of this year. In fact, 25 establishments have already been demolished and over 280 businesses with building easements near the shoreline and waste disposal violations are facing more penalties due to violations against environmental laws.
There is no need to shutdown El Nido as affirmed by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, but it is still the prerogative of the President as it was done to Boracay for six months.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) was quick to urge the national government to take a long and hard look at the proposed closure of the two municipalities as this would greatly impact the local businesses and the employment of the workers.
In its statement, PCCI asserted that the closure will not be good to business and will affect legitimate industry stakeholders, including the local livelihoods and jobs.
Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu confirmed that his department will dedicate more people to oversee the rehabilitation efforts in El Nido and Coron.
El Nido is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan and is comprised of 45 islands and islets with beautiful white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and limestone cliffs. Coron, meanwhile, is also a first class municipality situated in the northernmost tip of Palawan island province and has been listed in the natural category of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List as an Island Natural Biotic Area.
The inter-agency task force has yet to submit its final recommendations for the rehabilitation of the two island municipalities.
Being hailed as world’s best islands, the imminent closure is still possible because Duterte wants the environment protected. In Boracay, establishments were made to comply with sewerage treatment rules so as to stop the practice of releasing their dirty Water onto the sea that causes contanimation.
While it is not yet declared and may not be declared that the two need to be closed down temporarily, the local government units and the stakeholders should cooperate and work hand in hand to ensure that everyone in El Nido and Coron comply with all environmental laws and other laws that have impacts on the environment.