Who will suffer Boracay’s fate in Region 1?

LINGAYEN- The question has not escaped minds in Region 1 since it has one of the longest coastlines in the country and therefore boasts of many beaches touted as one of the best in the country.

So what has befallen Boracay, the country’s best, can happen as well to those in the region, from Pangasinan to Ilocos Norte, if lessons are not learned.

This was the view shared by Department of Tourism Regional Director Martin Valera who was in Pangasinan last week for the celebration of the 438th founding anniversary of Pangasinan.

He said many tourism establishments in Region I may suffer Boracay’s fate being closed for at least six months if these continue to violate the country’s laws protecting the environment and laws and ordinances on health and sanitation.

He said many establishments in the region are “in the radar of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources” for violating the same laws.

Beach establishments and coastal settlements are required to set back by 25 meters, plus five-meter easement rule.

This is not only just a tourism issue but also environmental issue, a health issue as well as an infrastructure issue, Director Valera said.

It is for this reason, he said, the DOT, DENR, Department of Health, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways and LGUs must fully support the efforts of the government not only to improve tourism facilities but to protect the environment not only in Boracay but in the entire country.

He revealed that the most common problem noted among tourism establishments in the region is violation of the easement rules as provided for by law. However, since the beaches are not located in islands like Boracay, disposal of wastes out to the sea is not common.

Valera described the popular beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte as borderline owing to the presence of many settlements and beach properties along the shore.

He said some of the islands in Hundred Islands may require engineering intervention if it doesn’t want to suffer the same fate.  (Leonardo Micua)

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