To avoid a scenario similar to the temporary closure of Boracay, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has been instructed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to monitor all island resorts and beach tourism destinations in the country.
To ensure the Department’s compliance with the President’s directive, DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año has directed all Regional Offices of the Department to submit a report of the list and summary of provincial, city, or municipal ordinances relative to environmental conservation, building construction, and easement regulation.
“The DILG will evaluate the status of sewage treatment facilities, power and water supply service capacity, and Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plan of local government units (LGUs) that have beach tourism destinations,” Año says.
The regional reports shall be submitted to the DILG Beach Tourism Monitoring Team (BTMT) which was reconstituted from the former DILG Boracay Secretariat (DBS).
Knowing that closing a tourism site impacts on people’s livelihood and the local economy, he urges all LGUs not to wait for sanctions or interventions by the national government. "We should all learn from the Boracay experience. Let's not wait until your beaches turn into another cesspool," he says.
“Complacency is tantamount to dereliction of duty. Local chief executives are accountable of regulating tourism businesses and enforcing critical environmental laws, rules and regulations, and local ordinances,” he says.
“Let us not wait for nature’s boiling point to fire back to the point that restoration efforts would be very tough. Let’s not procrastinate on this matter. Be proactive even if no one watches over your shoulders,” he challenges local government officials.
During the 29th Cabinet meeting in September, the DILG, together with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), were instructed by the President “to continuously monitor and be vigilant in the supervision of all other island resorts.”
According to DILG Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya, the BTMT is creating a monitoring framework and tools based on the Boracay experience for the monitoring of all other beach tourism destinations and island resorts.
DOT has already sent gentle reminders to LGUs of some major destinations namely El Nido in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, Oslob in Cebu, and La Union.
“Whilst LGUs actively promote more businesses for investments and employment, they must also balance it with upholding the integrity of the environment. These are standards set in the DILG Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG),” Malaya says.
For provincial governments, the 2018 SGLG assessment criteria require a province to at least have an organized provincial solid waste management board and an approved 10-year solid waste management plan.
City governments and municipal governments must, on the other hand, have solid waste management board organized, no operating open or controlled dumpsite, approved 10-year solid waste management plan, materials recovery facility, and access to a sanitary landfill or alternative technology as final disposal.