Gov. Edgar Chatto has issued an aide-memoire to not lose track of the policy actions on environmental distress and other concerns that now haunt what is viewed as the image of Bohol tourism, the island of Panglao.
The actions should be completed by a systematic monitoring and evaluation, with strict compliance deadlines “given teeth” by calibrated disciplinary measures or penalties to get the desired outcomes, the governor said in the set of reminders.
Chatto would want a no-nonsense application of the interventions, all contained in his aide-memoire, as agreed in the critical conferences he called with the concerned government agencies and key stakeholders.
A written aid to the memory, the aide-memoire summarizes the key points in the meetings and reminds of the actions to do.
Policy actions are to be made by responsible agencies with timelines on the pressing concerns of waste water management, easement, zoning and protection zone, solid waste management, and mandatory submission of tourist arrival data, among others.
Immediately this week, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has to provide the local government units (LGUs) of Panglao and Dauis the complete list of establishments with notices of violations (NOVs) concerning waste water management.
The EMB is a bureau attached to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Starting this month, there will be level-off testing of water samples (similar area and time of sampling) by the EMB and Provincial Health Office (PHO) to address the concern of different results.
Meetings of the Panglao Island and Tagbilaran Executive Council (PITEC) were called by the governor in the past two weeks to coordinate efforts for vigorous and sustained enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
Chatto issued the aide-memoire to, among others, Acting Mayor Pedro Fuertes of Panglao; Mayor Miriam Sumaylo, Dauis; Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, Tagbilaran City; Regional Director William Cuñado, DENR-EMB; Regional Director Halimar Hofer Tamano, Department of Tourism (DOT); and Officer-in-charge Eusalem Quiwag, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).
As agreed in the meetings attended by the DENR-EMM and other national agencies, LGUs and key stakeholders, the policy actions stipulated hereunder have likewise to be pursued.
WASTE WATER MANAGEMENT
—LGUs of Panglao and Dauis to segregate/classify the list of establishments, particularly resorts, accommodation and dive shops, that require waste water discharge permit;
—EMB to send the NOVs or notices of violations to the establishments. No discharge of waste water for those issued with NOVs;
—From March to May, Panglao island establishments to act on the violations and comply with the EMB. Remedial measures to be undertaken while the communal facility is not yet done;
—Throughout the year, strict enforcement of the issuance of the discharge permits;
—LGUs to enforce year-round the guidelines on waste water management based on the EMB test results and pursuant to the Clean Water Act;
—Provincial government to pursue the fund sourcing for the development of a common waste water treatment facility in Panglao as endorsed by the Provincial Development Council (PDC) and Regional Development Council (RDC) for fund support from the national government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA);
—Propose the utilization of the waste water treatment and sewage facility at the Panglao Bohol airport once it is completed, and process and treat the waste water of Panglao (if capacity allows) while waiting for the completion of the communal facility;
—LGUs to inspect the septic tanks until May to ensure that those with bottomless chambers be called to do remedial works within the March-May period. Those with violations must stop operation, through due process. LGUs to require the resorts install three-chamber tanks and temporary storage tanks;
—Establishments/resorts to work on the corrective measures for the septic tanks until May;
—While waiting for the large-scale communal waste water treatment facility, an aerator type of septic tank can be temporarily used to alleviate the condition;
—LGUs to enforce the guidelines on the construction of cisterns for run-off water in the establishments. Strict year-round monitoring of compliance;
—LGU (Office of the Building Official and sanitary inspector) to monitor the construction of swimming pools and compliance to the requirement of recycling water through appropriate treatment processes like chlorination, filtration, reverse osmosis;
—Non-issuance of business permits to establishments which are non-compliant to the guidelines and standards; and
—Conduct of technical conference by the DENR-EMB with the LGUs to monitor and ensure compliance.
Quiwag said they will conduct a technical conference with the violators on March 7, during which they will be told of the nature of their environmental offenses and the remedial measures they have to do.
The PENRO head expected more violation notices to be issued during the complete inventory and inspection of the establishments.
EASEMENT, ZONING, PROTECTION ZONE
—Within the first week of March, DENR to provide LGUs (after validation) the list of establishments with structures built within the environmental protection zone;
—DENR/LGU to conduct technical conference to establish framework for remedial measures. Establish timeframe. Violators must be informed of their violations; and
—For any violations, LGUs will resort to non-issuance of building permit, revocation of building permit, non-approval of any renewal, and order the demolition of the structure, where necessary.
The DENR already showed its present list of “obstructions” within the easement zone and environmental protection area during a conference with the LGU of Panglao on Thursday.
Quiwag said the LGU will present its own list on March 6, Tuesday, during which a massive clean-up on Panglao island will also be done.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
—Continue the disposal of residual waste to the sanitary landfill in Alburquerque;
—Barangays to be proactive in solid waste management and the households/establishments/institutions to do segregation; and
—Proper waste management to be imposed in Alona area and all other tourism areas on Panglao island.
STRENGTHENING LGU STRUCTURE
—LGUs to strengthen their respective government structures/organizations to support tourism development and regulation, zoning planning and enforcement, and environmental management; and
—Per Republic Act 9593 or the National Tourism Act of 2009, the LGUs, where tourism industry is significant, shall have tourism officers who are responsible for preparing, implementing and updating the local tourism development plans, and enforcing tourism laws, rules and regulations.
—To create a task force (consisting the LGUs of Panglao island, provincial government and national agencies) to strengthen further the law enforcement on the entire Panglao island, including Balicasag island as a part of Panglao LGU, against crimes like smuggling, illegal drugs, human trafficking, illegal fishing, and illegal boat operation; and
—To craft a general agreement on the task force and define its functions, as well as review how all these fit to the existing Task Force Dagon structure/framework applied province-wide.
MANDATORY TOURIST DATA
—Submission of data on tourist arrivals shall be part of the requirements for business permit issuance;
—Mandatory submission of the data to the LGU and subsequent on-time submission by the LGU of the collated data to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Bohol Tourism Office (BTO); and
—Mayors and business sector must be informed of the existing ordinance on the mandatory submission of the tourist arrival data.
TRANSPORTATION AND ROUTES
—To establish missionary development routes to serve the unserved areas in Panglao and cater to tourists around the new Bohol Panglao airport;
—This week, the mayors of Panglao and Dauis are to advised to attend a meeting with the land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to discuss route modification; and
—Prepare local route plan this year and involved in this task are the LGUs of Panglao and Dauis, provincial government and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
—Continuing mobile registration of boats; and
—Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) regional director to raise to the central office for action and support on these issues: Difficulty of the boat owners/operators to comply with the requirements for the issuance of Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) like the need for a diesel mechanic and acquisition of a seaman’s book; request for simpler requirements; and proposal to authorize the mayor to have the issuance of permits done at the LGU level and avoid delay.
PROMOTION OF CLEANLINESS
—Conduct mass clean-up on Panglao island as a kick-off event to promote awareness and cleanliness in the entire province on Tuesday, March 6.
MONTHLY REPORT OF ACTIONS TAKEN
In his aide-memoire, Chatto reiterated to the responsible agencies and concerned offices to undertake the commitments within the set timelines in accordance with their respective mandates.
To track actions being taken, progress reports have to be submitted to the governor on a monthly basis.
The governor sent the same memoire to Regional Director Ahmed Cuizon of LTFRB; Regional Director Jose Venancio Vero, MARINA; Provincial Director Angeles Geñorga, Philippine National Police (PNP); Capt. Edgar Boado, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); and Provincial Director Ma. Loisella Lucino, DILG.
The rest who received the aide-memoire were Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Governor and SEEM Cluster Coordinator Liza Quirog, Provincial Legal Officer John Mitchell Boiser, PHO chief Dr. Reymoses Cabagnot, Bohol Environment and Management Office (BEMO) Officer-in-charge Samuel Racho, and BTO Head Josephine Cabarrus.
REGIONAL TASK FORCE
As he issued the aide-memoire, Chatto welcomed the creation by the DENR-7 of the Regional Foreshore Area Task Force (RFATF) for Mactan island in Cebu and Panglao island in Bohol
In Regional Special Order No. 2018-95, DENR Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales said the group is “in order to enforce environmental laws to protect the region’s tourism sites for our present and future generations.”
The RFATF is tasked of the following:
• Conduct inventory and inspection of establishments near or within the foreshore areas;
• Identify establishments with structures built outside their property limit and those found in violation of laws on solid and waste water management;
• Draw updated list of all establishments found violating environmental laws, including those without tenure instruments yet still built their structures within 20 meters from the high tide waterline, and violating the law on solid and waste water management;
• Recommend for the issuance of violation notices and show-cause orders and serve the same, giving the violators 15 days to explain why they should not be shut down and three months to voluntarily demolish their illegal structures, and submit requirements for the issuance of appropriate tenurial instrument;
• Recommend penalties equivalent to fees they should have been paying on tenurial instrument from the date their operation started;
• Recommend the filing of appropriate charges against the offenders; and
• Undertake monitoring on the compliance to environmental laws, rules and regulations
The task force will coordinate with the EMB and concerned LGUs for its operation, which should be complied within three months or until this coming May, which timeline was repeated by Chatto in his “set of reminders.”
Before the DENR-7 order, dated February 26, a task force for Panglao and Balicasag was already conceived and discussed during the meeting called by Chatto and also attended by the EMB regional director and Bohol PNP chief on February 24.
PENRO Nestor Canda is the overall regional task force coordinator while to lead the team for Panglao is Lawyer Junalit Molo of the DENR-7 Legal Division.
There is a separate team for Mactan.
Canda is the Bohol PENRO but presently functioning at the regional DENR, which explains for Quiwag’s post as the OIC PENRO.
NO FEAR TO DO MANDATE
Chatto told Quiwag in front of the media on Friday, “Don’t be afraid to do your mandate. It is a necessary way for the LGUs to have legal basis to suspend, cancel or revoke the business permits of the environmental violators.”
The OIC PENRO attended and answered questions during Chatto’s weekly media forum dubbed the Kita ug Ang Gobernador at the Governor’s Mansion.
“To preserve Bohol’s environment through sustainable tourism, no law enforcement is stronger than the stakeholders themselves who are conscious and committed to their role and duty as responsible citizens directly benefitting from the generosity of Mother Earth,” the governor said.
Although the present issues concentrate in Panglao, parallel actions ought to be taken by the LGUs of all other Bohol areas where there may have similar concerns, Chatto said.
He called on “all responsible stakeholders to love Bohol by moderating their profits and investing in compliant technologies of waste management to preserve the asset that is everybody’s chicken laying the golden eggs.”