While everyone’s on home quarantine, backhoe destroys reef in Siargao town

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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.


What’s a backhoe doing at the beach? While everyone was mandated to stay home due to the community quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, n Barangay Baybay, Burgos town in Siargao Island on March 27, 2020, a team that included the police chief of General Luna town passed by this area and found this backhoe destroying the natural reef barrier. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

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.

What’s a backhoe doing at the beach? MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

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.”

Damage may not be obvious here but under the water, the natural reef barrier was damaged using backhoe in Baybay, Burgos town, Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte on March 27, 2020. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“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.

Fresh cuts of reef damaged by a backhoe in Baybay, Burgos town on Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte on Friday, March 27, 2020. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

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.”

Irreparable damage by the backhoe clearing the sharp reef along the beach and inshore natural reef barriers. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“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)

 

 

 

 

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