By Jerry Alcayde
PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has encouraged all resort establishments and other tourism-related outlets in Puerto Galera to secure a DOT accreditation as it warned that failure to do so would likely result to the closure of their business.
DOT-MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) Regional Director Danilo Intong said in a widely-attended stakeholders’ meeting held recently at New Muelle Terminal that the accreditation is now a mandatory requirement in getting and renewing a mayor’s permit and business license.
Puerto Galera Mayor Rocky D. Ilagan supported the DOT’s move as well as that of the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in requiring all Primary Tourist Establishments (PTE) to have a discharge permit for a three-chamber-no-seepage septic tank.
“We need to comply with these strict government regulations which are mandated in our environmental laws and we, in the local government, will help you in securing those permits subject to your compliance with the standards, otherwise, the government will be constrained to do what they did to Boracay where it ordered the closure of several resorts and businesses as a concrete solution against pollutants in our rivers and sea,” Mayor Ilagan told the 300 attendees composed of foreign and local tourism outlet owners at the newly-constructed passenger waiting area at Muelle Bay.
Mayor Ilagan also announced during the meeting that the P100-million sewerage and water treatment plant (SWTP) in Barangay Sabang, funded by the national government through the Department of Public Works and Highways, is now operational.
Under the plan, wastewater will be collected from all households and commercial establishments through a piping system that leads to the SWTP where it will be treated before being discharged to the sea or reused.
Mayor Ilagan said owners or operators of all commercial buildings, hotels, lodging houses, residential, and institutional facilities will be obligated to either connect to the sewerage system or construct their own EMB-approved septic tank.
Records at the mayor’s office showed that only 23 establishments have been accredited by the DOT out of the estimated 350 PTEs.
A previous finding of the DENR indicated that the coastal areas of the town, particularly Sabang and Whitebeach, were heavily contaminated with fecal coliform, which if not cured will severely affect its tourism industry and result to degradation of coastal resources.
The stakeholders’ meeting was also attended by Assistant Regional Director Vicente Tuddao Jr. of DENR, Regional Director Michael Drake Mattias of EMB, and District Engineer Nestor del Rosario of DPWH First Engineering District of Oriental Mindoro.