DENR: 39 Quarries in Siargao Island Operating Illegally

BUTUAN City—Thirty-nine quarries for sand and gravel in Siargao Island are operating illegally without permits, admit top EMB and DENR officials of the CARAGA region during the press conference for the Environment Month held at the Learning Center of the DENR Caraga regional office in Ambago, Butuan City.

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A tourist destination island, Siargao which is about two hours by motorboat from the Port of Surigao City, is composed of nine municipalities namely Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, General Luna, San Benito, Pilar, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro.

DENR Regional Executive Director for CARAGA region Atty. Felix S. Alicer confirmed that measures are already being made by the DENR regional office to respond to the findings.

 

Fecal coliform bacteria found in four testings of seawaters in Siargao 

Environmental Management Bureau regional director for CARAGA region Engr. Wilson Trajeco disclosed the presence of fecal coliform bacteria in Siargao Island, especially in tourist areas based on EMB’s initial conduct of four water sampling activities.

“We found out that in Siargao Island alone, 96 tourism-related business establishments have not followed the standards in the construction of septic tanks. Most of them, if not majority, are the open type and not the closed type. Septic tanks in private houses and buildings also violated environmental laws of protected areas like Siargao, so the contamination of sea-waters is high,” added Trajeco.

Trajeco admitted there is no one convergence body to address the problem as of now in the region, saying that EMB alone cannot carry the task as it is not only the sole agency in monitoring and assessing violations of environmental laws but also other government agencies like DOT, DOH, DILG, PPA, and even DPWH.

For example, in assessing the effects of the presence of E. Coli and fecal matter on beachgoers, the DOH is in-charge.

On matters of building permits, the DILG and LGUs concerned are on top of the situation together with the Department of Tourism.

Trajeco, however, claimed they have conducted four water sampling of sea waters on the shores of the beach resorts not only in Siargao but also in other beach resorts in CARAGA region.

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Trajeco said that while the results of the four seawater sampling activities showed the positive presence of coliform fecal bacteria, it further needs to conduct eight other water sampling activities.

Alicer, Trajeco, and De Dios stated that they have been coordinating with the Surigao del Norte provincial government to address the problem, saying that provincial officials are doing their best to correct the implementation of building permit applications in LGUs and other permits like the ECC or Environmental Compliance Certificates not only in Siargao Island alone but in the entire CARAGA region to prevent it from becoming the next case of Boracay.

Banner photo from Claire Delfin Media.

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