BURGOS, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 29 March) — While everyone is staying home due to the community quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a beachfront property owner was reported to have destroyed a portion of the reef in this town on Friday.
Police identified the beachfront owner as Nymfa Ranoco, a resident of Poblacion 1.
The operation was stopped when Capt. Wise Vicente Panuelos, chief of the General Luna Police Station, and a team from Hardin ng Pagbabago (Garden of Change) passed by, saw the backhoe operations, took photographs and videos and proceeded to the police station to report what they saw. The police in Burgos accompanied them back to the area
Ranoco claimed she only removed the stones around her property and moved them to the beach area. She vehemently denied she was destroying the reef.
Panuelos said the claim of Ranoco is “a total lie.”
“They were digging right at the beach area, there’s actual destruction of reef as you can see,” Panuelos said, adding they have photos of the damage to the reefs.
He recalled that when they started taking photographs and video, “one of the workers noticed us and immediately called the backhoe operator to stop and hide the heavy equipment.”
“That’s gross violation of environmental laws being a protected island and the perpetrator shamelessly did this highly deplorable act to take advantage of the situation as the public eye is blinded observing the community quarantine,” he added.
Panuelos and a team from the community-driven project, Hardin ng Pagbagago, including this reporter, were driving in the northern towns of Siargao to support the farmers’ needs during the period of quarantine.
He said that when they passed by the coastal village of Babay, they saw “a strange thing –a backhoe digging and working at the beach area.”
“That’s a culpable violation of the beach property owner as they destroyed the reef as a natural barrier, to suit their whims and caprices,” he added.
Police in the town of Burgos are investigating the incident and are set to file formal complaint against Ranoco. (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)