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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has prevented a possible coastal damage and disaster when it stopped the excavation of sand embankment along a beach area in Bonbon town, Northern Samar province at the height of the enhanced community quarantine imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Acting on a complaint by an overseas Filipino worker who is a native of Bonbon, the DENR—through its Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Northern Samar—on April 20 ordered property owner Armida Lim to stop the demolition of a portion of sand embankment that protects residents from strong waves and storm surges.

The order came after a DENR team led by PENRO Northern Samar Officer-in-Charge Angelito Villanueva confirmed that a portion of the embankment—measuring 821 square meters in area, 1.5 meters in depth and an estimated 1,300 cubic meters of sand volume—has been removed.

The embankment, which is located at Barangay Magsaysay, is approximately 225 meters from the shoreline with an elevation of 20 meters above sea level.

“Although the said embankment is located within alienable and disposable land and owned privately by Lim, scraping the portion of the land poses danger to the communities living along the coast,” Villanueva said.

“It could potentially cause landslide and endanger the lives of the people, or erosion that could lead to coastal degradation,” he added.

During the investigation, Villanueva said Lim admitted to have ordered the scraping of the sand embankment within her property using a bulldozer to further flatten the way going to her place and to have a good view of the sea. The excavation was discontinued following objections from the community.

Lim was also reminded by the DENR team that the demolition of the embankment was illegal since no clearance and permit were secured from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Environmental Management Bureau.

The case stemmed from a letter complaint dated April 11, 2020 sent by Abu Dhabi-based Nelson Paredes to the Presidential Management Staff in Malacañang. His complaint was forwarded to the DENR Action Center in Quezon City, which then referred the matter to the DENR Region 8 office.

 

The DENR regional office subsequently ordered PENRO Northern Samar to conduct an investigation, which led to the latter ordering the property owner to stop the excavation activities. In a memo dated April 27, 2020, the regional office submitted to the DENR Action Center the report of the investigation and resolution of the complaint.

DENR Action Center Head Merlinda Manila lauded PENRO Northern Samar and DENR Region 8 for their prompt action on the complaint of Paredes, who also expressed his appreciation and gratitude in an email sent to the two DENR field offices.

“Considering restricted movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this field operations work deserves a commendation,” Manila said. #