By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Popular holiday destination El Nido, Palawan will not be closed to tourism activities while the island resort is undergoing rehabilitation.
The interagency task force, composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism, and Department of Interior and Local Government, has agreed that they will not shut down El Nido but will impose a “no swimming policy” in areas found to have high fecal coliform levels.
“We will not close El Nido, but we will continue the rehabilitation by imposing a no-swimming policy in certain parts of Bacuit Bay, including the El Nido estero outfall, Cabugao outfall, Masagana outfall, and Corong-corong outfall,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
“(Our plan is) to come up with an interagency task force which will undertake investigation and inspection of the establishments including the households close to the vicinity,” the DENR chief said when asked about the timeline of rehabilitation.
The task force will be given 20 days effective August 5 for the submission of the result of the investigation and inspection.
“We will wait for the results and then will be closing individual establishments based on the recommendation of the task force (which will be created),” Cimatu said.
He noted that 90 percent of establishments in El Nido remain non-compliant to environmental laws and other tourism restrictions.
The major issues that were found during the six-month rehabilitation of El Nido that started in November 2018 include high coliform level in certain areas, violation of easement rules, operating without business permits, and construction of establishments in prohibited areas like timberlands.