DENR-Region 4B

14 establishments asked to leave Puerto Galera easement zone

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Moving on with its cleanup of major tourist destinations in the region, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources MIMAROPA on Friday served 14 establishments with notices to vacate and to remove voluntarily the structures they have built on easement zones in Sabang and White Beach, two popular beaches in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.

DENR MIMRAROPA Assistant Regional Director and Task Force Galera Chair Dr Vicente Tuddao, Jr. personally served the notices to Tina's Sunset Cottages, Restaurant & Dive Center, Ocean Dream Lodge, Paradise Dive Zone Resort, Corp., Pink & Black Lodging House, Montani Beach Resort, Sabang Inn, Sabang Divers, Mangosteen Restaurant , Dive Dojo, Mermaid Resort Charletan, Inc., Modem Development Company Inc., Captn Gregg, Eddie's Place Bar & Restautant, Marginor Diner & Snack, and I Dive at Casa Mia.

Except for Marginor Diner & Snack and I Dive at Casa Mia which are in Barangay San Isidro, the rest are in Barangay Sabang.

The establishments were given 30 days to comply.

“We hope they will be responsible enough to remove the structures they have built on easement zones within that period. The sooner we can start the rehabilitation of Sabang and White Beach, the better,” Tuddao said.

Apart from clearing up the three-meter easement zone, Task Force Galera also inspected establishments for compliance to environmental regulations such as securing discharge permit, environmental compliance certificate, permit to operate, hazardous waste registration, compliance to solid waste segregation, and having a Pollution Control Officer.

The absence of proper wastewater disposal facility, aggravated by overcrowding of structures along the beaches, is seen as a major source of coliform contamination of Sabang and White Beach. Water quality tests in five sampling stations in Puerto Galera from 2009 to 2017 show high fecal coliform levels.

DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Natividad Bernardino said notices of violations shall also be served in the coming days to establishments found violating environmental rules.

Bernardino said she hopes people appreciates what DENR is doing is for the long-term good of everyone. “Who would want to visit Puerto Galera in the future if its beaches has become too dirty and hazardous to swim in?” she asks.

Bernardino adds that DENR is trying to rehabilitate Puerto Galera not only for tourism but also for scientific researches.

In 1977, Puerto Galera was declared Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO , an international recognition that it is a model of sustainable development which provides “living observatories.” In 2014, however, UNESCO almost strip Puerto Galera of this recognition after it concluded that the town did not meet the criteria. It was only in July 2017 that the status was affirmed after the local government submitted an Integrated Management Plan. ###