By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – The Task Force Siargao of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday reported that dozens of commercial establishments and “Homestay” units in the tourist-belt zone in Siargao Islands Protected Land and Seascape (SPLAS) have been allegedly found to have no proper sewage system.
This is the initial observation, during the first day of their 45-day inspection and evaluation of Task Force Siargao which was launched on Monday at the country’s surfing capital of General Luna town, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province.
The provincial government of Surigao del Norte is assisting the task force in an effort to help preserve and protect the environment in the “Paradise Island” of Siargao.
“Homestay” is a residential unit converted by the local house-owners for rental purpose to accommodate foreign tourists who seek temporary shelters with the comfort of a home while spending vacation in the island. The locals admit it is a lucrative business as they rake in hefty earnings that range from P 15,000 to P30,000 a day.
Initial results of the evaluation and inspection conducted by Task Force Siargao showed that some of the “Homestays” have inadequate sewage system.
Some of the houses and commercial establishments were found to be discharging their water wastes into the creek.
The team also discovered the absence of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in most commercial establishments in the area.
Tourists, both foreign and domestic, have been trooping to the island for its beautiful Daku, Guyam, Naked islands, Magpupungko Beach Tidal Rock and other beautiful scenes, aside from being the the country’s surfing and game fishing hub.
The DENR created the task force to guide the residents in securing and protecting the island.
“The DENR has a mandate to fulfill to ensure that water bodies including rivers, creeks and other waterways are free , as possible, from pollution,” DENR 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Atty. Felix S. Alicer said.
“Task Force Siargao is implemented and imposed to evaluate the condition of the expanding commercial tourist establishments in the island pursuant to the 10-point agenda of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and the program of President Duterte,” stressed Alicer.
He said the evaluation is important in the database of the DENR and its Protected Area Superintendent Unit which monitors and updates the environmental condition in the island. “I therefore urge the people to extend their support to e Task Force Siargao to complete its task,” Alicer said.
The opening program was attended by the provincial and municipal officials, the Provincial Health Office which discussed the domestic sewage collection, treatment and disposal, the officer-in-charge of DENR-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Maritess M. Ocampo and several officers and members of the Siargao Tourist Operators Association (STOA).