Panglao threatened For closure, anew?

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Panglao island composed of the towns of Panglao and Dauis is once again threatened to be shut down apparently for environmental grounds if no drastic effort to be carried out.

Provincial Board Member Dionisio Victor Balite brought to the attention to his colleagues of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan recent session the information that the national government is hell bent in shutting down tourist sports like what happened to Boracay island last year.

“This is just for information only I was just informed four (4) days ago that El Nido will be closed anytime soon. After El Nido, Panglao will soon follow. So, we have to move now, and act now.”

This came as Acting Mayor Briccio Bryan Velasco carried out last week the demolition of an illegal structures violating the 20-meter salvage zone along Alona beachfront, barangay Tawala, Panglao town, said to be the premier tourist town that never sleeps.

Vice-Gov. Rene Relampagos considered this information “as a very serious matter” as he thanked Balite for it.

He said “it would be in the best interest of the province that you could share the same information to the Chief Executive of the province, the Honorable Governor, so that appropriate action can be done because that is really a very, very serious matter and it could have a great impact for all of us here in the Province of Bohol should, God forbid, it happen.”

Panglao island must be cleansed, not only on its environmental pollution in non-biodegradable wastes, but also of motorized boats clogging the seashore as they anchored on the prohibited seascape despite the existing ordinance.

“As for Panglao, Dauis and Tagbilaran City, the focus must be on clean up. According to Secretary Puyat, the Department of Tourism wants to shut down Panglao. The area should be cleared of boats contributing to water pollution,” the minutes of the Management Executive Board (MEB) chaired by Gov. Arthur Yap showed.

It will be recalled that late of last year the same threat of closure of this island was reportedly announced following the seawater contamination.

The report said that the Department of Tourism banned the swimming of some areas in the island based on the report of seawater contamination of coliform by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The said report of contamination has irked Mayor Leonila Montero, dubbed the Iron Lady Mayor here.

She was quoted as saying that the report was fake news. She lamented that when the closure is effected due to water contamination and 20-meter salvage zone breach a lot of workers would be out of job.

Then tourism officer here Pat Ruiz confirmed there was this executive order prepared by agencies concerned for the island shut down but it was not signed by President Duterte.

Meanwhile, Vice-Mayor Velasco reportedly implemented the demolition order signed by Mayor Nila Montero, who is serving her 90-day preventive suspension.

One of the target of the demolition job was the Hera Greek Taverna, said to be a Greek restaurant owned by Korean national George Park, that is within the 20-meter public access zone.

The restaurant built some three years back is situated beside Alona Kew White Beach in Barangay Tawala, Panglao, municipal engineer Rogelio Bonao reportedly said.

Bonao, along with other officials of the tourism and environment agencies, led the inter-agency task force demolition team with the presence of municipal officials led by Velasco.

In 2017, Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu had ordered the demolition of the illegal structures that violated the salvage zone of Alona Beach and elsewhere in Bohol.

But since then, his order fell on deaf ears the following year (2018) as the municipal occupants appeared to be hesitant to do the demolition job.

At that time, DENR released to media the list of some 80+ resort owners breaching the prohibited 20-meter zone in this island, including Dauis town.

After that, some owners reportedly volunteered to remove their illegal structures erected within the banned coastal area.

Gov. Yap pushes tourism as his flagship program after his assumption on June 30, 2019.

Governor yap pointed out in MEB meeting, “Tourism is the fastest. He made a marching order to the MEB Members: “Think, Live, Sleep, Dream Tourism”. Everything is integrated when he arrived in Bohol, he observed. He was always curious on how the transport system, waste management and waterworks system works in Bohol. No tourist wants to go to a place with no air conditioning unit and water.”

“Opening of new sites for tourism must be a priority. The Governor has been meeting tourism people to finalize tourism routes. Each tourism route must be capacitated. Tourism loops must be created. Tourists should be served with native food. Toilets must be built with complete facilities. The Governor envisions of running a tourism loop,” MEB said. (rvo)