DENR flags 10 hotels 'gravely polluting' El Nido's Bacuit Bay

PALAWAN, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued cease and desist orders (CDO) against 10 hotels for "gravely polluting" Bacuit Bay in El Nido, one of the country’s tourism hotspots undergoing massive rehabilitation. 

Signed by Michael Drake Matias, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Mimaropa, the orders were served on Wednesday, May 15, to the following establishments found discharging wastewater without valid permits:

The DENR said these establishments violated Rule 14.12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.

Under RA 9275, establishments with "disapproved applications or suspended or revoked wastewater discharge permits" are prohibited to do such an act as it would pollute any receiving body of water. 

The order specified that the result of the laboratory analysis on the wastewater taken from said establishments went beyond DENR effluent standards. (READ: DENR aims to make Bacuit Bay in El Nido swimmable again by May)

Meanwhile, the DENR's Pollution Adjudication Board served the same order to Cuna Hotel, which has existing complaints for "discharging blackish and foul smelling wastewater." 

Cuna Hotel's effluent sample had "greatly exceeded the water quality standard set by the department." The department said it remains "in force and in effect until modified or lifted by the Board or the DENR secretary." 

To ensure that erring establishments stop discharging wastewater, a team from the regional EMB sealed all their water lines and facilities, from their kitchens to  toilets. 

The team also posted a notice of their violations to the public. 

“It is a tedious process but that is what the law prescribes. We make sure all our actions are done in due process,” Matias said in a press statement.

While the 10 establishments had been placed under close watch, the DENR continuously checked the wastewater discharge of other business structures in El Nido.

“We have initial investigations done on other hotels and restaurants and we are just waiting if results of their effluent samples would  merit issuance of CDO,” said DENR Mimaropa Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado. 

“Until these erring establishments have shaped up, we have  no other choice but to enforce the law and stop them from polluting El Nido,” Adornado added.

Hotel owners who received orders have been given time to comply with requirements prescribed in the law to legally operate. (READ: 50 more establishments in El Nido face closure)

The ongoing rehabilitation of El Nido forms part of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu's directive to protect all bodies of water in the country for people to enjoy their most beneficial use. 

“We have longed benefited from El Nido. It is about time we all realize that we have a shared responsibility to protect and save it from degradation so that we and the generations to come can still savor the beauty and natural resources that this wonderful island has to offer, ” Ardonado said. – Rappler.com