Apart from recognizing the importance of the establishment of sewage and solid waste treatment plant (SSTP) such as the one in El Nido, Palawan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna also urged local officials to educate and inspire the public to achieve effective and sustainable implementation of the proper waste management practices.

Sampulna said that while the SSTP helped reduce the fecal coliform level in El Nido, that alone could not fully protect the environment from further degradation if people will not contribute to its conservation.

“Ayusin natin ang pag-iisip ng ating mga tao dito, na hindi sila basta-basta magtapon ng basura at huwag magtapon ng kahit ano sa ating dagat kasi it will only destroy our environment,” Sampulna said.

Sampulna visited El Nido, Palawan, on April 2 to commend the efforts of the municipal and provincial governments on the construction and operation of the SSTP, which was inaugurated in September 2021.

The 490-million state-of-the-art SSTP, which is in Barangay Villa Libertad, is designed to address water pollution from untreated sewage discharge and garbage waste disposal.

It has been benefitting the residential and commercial establishments from at least 18 barangays in the municipality of El Nido.

The facility has a capacity to generate about 2,400 cubic meters of wastewater per day, which made it more efficient than any other sewage treatment plants in Palawan.

It could also process biodegradable solid waste and sludge through anaerobic digestion, thus generating electricity from biogas production.

In 2018, the DENR ordered a six-month rehabilitation of El Nido after finding out that improper sewage discharges from residential and commercial establishments significantly contributed to the degradation of the island’s water quality.

The activity in El Nido was in line with this year’s World Water Day celebration under the theme, “Making the Invisible, Visible,” to remind Filipinos on the importance of freshwater and recognize the initiatives of local government units (LGUs) in abating water pollution.

Sampulna called on other LGUs to follow the example of Palawan, and urged top officials of DENR MIMAROPA Region to ensure excellent public service by performing their best for the interest of the people.

“Magtrabaho kayo ng maayos. Make sure you are in control of the situation but never use your position or authority for personal gain,” the Secretary added.

DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Luzon, Visayas and Environment Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna said the Palawan SSTP sets the tone for what should be done in the provinces of the country.

Cuna cites that the treatment plant implemented two of the most important laws in environmental protection – Republic Act (RA) 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. ###