Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said his agency, along with the Tourism and Interior departments, had found countless environmental violations at El Nido.
“After Boracay we will focus on El Nido,” Cimatu told reporters.
He made his statement even the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Wednesday the government should “carefully study” any plan to close El Nido and Coron in Palawan and hold dialogues with stakeholders.
Local governments should also be “more proactive” in addressing issues on sewage and waste disposal even before the national leadership intervenes, the group said.
Cimatu said El Nido will not be closed.
“Only demolition... for the meantime, [we will act on the] violations of individual [operators], [business] establishments first...,” Cimatu said.
At least 22 establishments had already been ordered closed for illegal operations, he said.
More businesses would be ordered to shut down for violation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and Philippine Clean Water Act, Cimatu said.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat described El Nido as “overcrowded.”
“I visited the island last September. I think it is already overcrowded. There are too many tourists. We need to study its carrying capacity,” Romulo-Puyat said.
“Its lagoon is full of kayaks and boats. Its water is dirty. There is plenty of garbage all around.”
Romulo-Puyat called on the local government of Palawan to pass a measure sanctioning litterbugs within El Nido.
“We are waiting for a timeline. They [local officials] have kept on telling [us] they would pass an ordinance but there is no timeline [as to when that would be],” she said.
“President Rodrigo Duterte has talked to the three of us [Cimatu and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año] to study the capacity of El Nido and other [top] tourist destinations.”
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay Island on April 26 to give way to a six-month rehabilitation.
READ: Boracay to reopen on Oct. 26, says DENRREAD: Boracay rehab a continuing effort—Cimatu
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