Sombrero Island in Masbate closed to tourists

Rhadyz B. Barcia
Sombrero Island in Masbate closed to tourists
San Pascual Mayor Zacarina Lazaro cites non-compliance to environmental laws and operating without a permit as reasons for the closure

MASBATE, Philippines – Sombrero Island in Masbate has been closed to tourists upon orders of the San Pascual municipal government, over violations of environmental laws.

San Pascual Mayor Zacarina Lazaro issued the order on April 5, after it was verified that the municipal government did not issue any permit to operate there, and that there was a violation of  environmental laws, said Benjamin Santiago, Department of Tourism-Region V director.

Sombrero Island is an iconic rock formation similar to a cowboy’s hat. It is one of the 6 islets at the western tip of Burias Island, covering San Pascual and Claveria towns.

Santiago said a permanent structure had been built on the island by a family residing there, contrary to the rules guiding the protected area.

“We visited the Sombrero Island in February 2018 and the Sangguniang Bayan [municipal council] petitioned for the closure of the area to tourists, for operating without a permit. The place is also a protected area and is a hatchery of the hawksbill sea turtle which is badly affected, no water and without compliance for sanitation,” he said.

Santiago also said the local government unit had complained before the Bicol Regional Tourism Committee about the unsanitary operation in the island. The town had likewise recommended to eject the families residing there. –

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