Alvarez promises budget for public safety projects in Siargao

MANILA, Philippines – After broadcast journalist Karen Davila spoke up about her son's surfing accident in Siargao, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Saturday, March 31, that he "will make sure the budget is released” for puclic safety-related projects in the island.

Alvarez was referring to the lack of medical facilities to address emergencies of locals and tourists in Siargao, which is becoming a popular island destination in Mindanao among domestic and foreign travelers.

“Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas, Congressman Francisco Jose Matugas, and I are already taking steps to address the infrastructure problems she (Davila) cited, such as the lack of first aid and medical facilities to deal with emergencies and health issues faced by locals and visitors.I will make sure that the budget is released for these projects,” Alvarez said in a statement.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Davila complained that when her son figured in a a surfing accident, there was no life guard on call, and no first aid clinic in main town General Luna, where all the main surf spots are located.

She said that the hospital nearest to General Luna is in Dapa, a 45-minute drive away.

“While there was a doctor and a nurse on duty, very helpful and attentive – there were no medicines,” Davila said. 

‘Backyard operators’

Alvarez said it is the job of the local government unit to ensure that “tourist facilities in their respective areas are properly maintained.”

“Beach resorts should always have lifeguards on duty and surfing and diving instructors should have proper training and possess  the requisite certification. LGUs in coordination with the Department of Tourism should conduct regular inspections of the facilities of tourist destinations to ensure public safety at all times," he said.

Alvarez said the main surfing spot Cloud 9 should have adequate lighting, “otherwise there should be no nighttime surfing to prevent any untoward incident.” 

Siargao is also facing problems in waste management. Tourists and locals are doing their own cleanup initiatives meanwhile. (READ: DENR orders 49 Siargao businesses to address environmental violations

In her Facebook post, Davila also complained about "backyard operators" or those offering tour services, such as transportation and surfing lessons, without the proper accreditation.

Davila said her son’s surfing trainer appeared to be unlicensed. Her son suffered significant bruises and cuts on his chest after hitting the rocks in a beginner's surf spot.

Davila said she was told by another surf trainer that her son wasn’t taken further out the sea where there are lesser rocks.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.