DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 February) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) plans to put up sanitary landfills on Siargao Island, in Surigao del Norte, after they were requested by tourism stakeholders there to address concerns on solid waste disposal.
Tourism undersecretary Katherine de Castro said in an interview on Friday that the locals and the municipal government of Siargao sought assistance for sanitary landfills to comply with environmental laws and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to avoid “Siargao” from becoming another “Boracay.”
President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered the closure of erring establishments whom he blamed for turning Boracay into a “cesspool.” The President gave these establishments a six-month deadline to clean up the island and fix the problems, including, among others, water and solid waste disposal.
She said the DOT wants to assist Siargao Island in constructing landfills, as the local governments lack budget to buy land and develop the roads.
She said each landfill will require a land area of 3.3 hectares. She said they expect landfills will be put up before the yearend.
De Castro said they will focus on General Luna municipality, which is popular for surfers because of the so-called “Cloud 9 Waves,” and the presence of so many establishments.
Siargao Island has eight towns, General Luna among them.
De Castro said a number of tourists are expected to visit Siargao, following Duterte’s stern warning against business establishments on Boracay.
She said 57 establishments on Boracay island have been issued with notices of violation out of the 300 initially identified. The island has a total of 500 establishments
“I have high hopes for Siargao because it has a bigger land area compared with Boracay,” she said.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said Duterte will issue a directive requiring all resort owners nationwide to put in place proper water treatment facilities to prevent polluting the coastal area just like what happened to Boracay Island.
Siargao has been identified as a tourism destination, including Cebu, Bohol, and Coron in Palawan, and requiring them to establish their own water treatment facilities would prevent the wastes from getting into the sea, she said.
“The massive clean-up of Boracay is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we were to collectively save and sustain Boracay,” she said.
De Casto said the DOT will put up a tourism office on Siargao to monitor its development.
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced last February that it will launch Davao-Siargao flights four times a week starting March 25. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)