bacuit bay
DENR, EMB, LGU eye to make Bacuit Bay
swimmable again by May 2019


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Environmental Management Bureau, with the cooperation of the local government of El Nido in Palawan, are aiming to bring back the water quality in some portions of Bacuit Bay as Class SB or suitable for ecotourism and recreational activities, such as bathing, swimming, and skin diving.

This, the agencies are eyeing to achieve in May 2019 by establishing Bacuit Bay as Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) in consonance with the provisions of Republic Act 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004. WQMA is an integrated water quality management system designed to protect and save bodies of water through the collaborative efforts of the government and various stakeholders.

“Water quality management is one of the priorities of Secretary Cimatu, and the establishment of Bacuit Bay WQMA adheres to the major thrusts of his administration. We look forward to having a sustained and collective action towards saving Bacuit Bay and the rest of our natural resources here in El Nido,” Assistant Secretary for Field Operations - Southern Luzon Reynulfo Juan said during the First Environmental Forum held in preparation for the proposed Bacuit Bay WQMA.

The forum, which was held at El Nido’s Legislative Building on January 29, was organized by EMB - MIMAROPA Region to orient stakeholders on the stages of establishing a water quality management area. These stages involve public consultations and the creation of a governing board that would craft and implement a 10-year action plan to address water quality issues specific to the locality. The members of the board shall be composed of representatives from pertinent national government agencies, local government units, water utility and business sectors.

“We can say that this is a progress made in line with El Nido’s six month rehabilitation period, which would end in May. Masaya ako na nandito tayo para makibahagi sa paglilinis ng Bacuit Bay. Tayo ang kalikasan dito sa El Nido,” Mayor Nieves Rosento remarked in her opening message.

Around 200 participants—mostly commercial establishment owners and business operators, as well as representatives of pertinent government agencies—attended the forum and actively participated in the discussions to save Bacuit Bay.

“The number of attendees shows that we are ready to take part in the protection and conservation of our environment. I hope this forum would serve as our guide in performing our respective roles in protecting Bacuit Bay and preventing it from turning into another Boracay,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado stated.

Saving Bacuit Bay

Similar to the famous island of Boracay, Bacuit Bay in El Nido has been receiving thousands of tourists all over the world annually because of its majestic beach and crystalline waters. Unfortunately, the inflow of tourists and human activities contributed to the degradation of the environment in El Nido, specifically the water quality in Bacuit Bay. Business establishments and households discharge untreated waste water directly into the bay resulting in high levels of total and fecal coliform.

To address this, the DENR has created Task Force El Nido as early as February 2018 to spearhead coastal cleanup and ensure strict enforcement of environmental rules and regulations in town. The task force, which is composed of personnel from the regional and provincial offices of DENR and EMB in MIMAROPA, works closely with the local government and concerned agencies such as the Department of Tourism, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Philippine Reclamation Area and Philippine Coast Guard, to name a few.

To date, Task Force El Nido has served notices to vacate to structures protruding to declared easement zones; and notices of violation to those who fail to comply with environmental regulations, especially those that concern discharge of untreated waste water.

On November 28, 2018, at the height of rehabilitating tourist destinations in the country following the successful reopening of Boracay, Secretaries Roy Cimatu (DENR), Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (DOT) and Eduardo Año visited El Nido for an intergency meeting and site inspection.

Based on the evaluation of the agency heads, El Nido was spared from being closed down, but was given six months to address problematic areas, such as the water quality in Bacuit Bay. The DENR Secretary gave specific instructions to restore the bay and even ordered banning of swimming in areas found to have high coliform levels. Signages are now in place to restrict tourists from bathing and swimming in the areas.

“We are mindful of the instructions of Secretary Cimatu and we recognize the urgency to establish WQMA in Bacuit Bay, which we expect to take place in November 2019,” EMB MIMAROPA Regional Director Michael Drake Matias said.

RD Matias was referring to the pressing need to bring down high coliform levels found in Bacuit Bay. While the figures went down towards the end of 2018, some areas still fail to meet the water quality guidelines of 100 Most Probable Number (MPN)/100ml for Class SB waters (Department Administrative Order 2016-08).

Based on the water testing conducted on December 28, 2018, the coliform levels were recorded as follows: Brgy Masagana - 110 MPN/100ml, Brgy. Maligaya 130 MPN/100ml, and Brgy. Buena Suerte 130 MPN/100ml.

The same water sampling also revealed swollen coliform levels from four outfalls that drain into the bay: Cabugao - 79,000 MPN/100ml; Masagana - 13,000 MPN/100ml, El Nido Estero - 11,000MPN/100ml and Corong-corong - 17,000 MPN/100ml.

As such, topics discussed during the environmental forum not only included the phases and boundaries of the proposed Bacuit Bay WQMA. Waste water treatment technologies, possible financing institutions that would help commercial establishments improve their facilities, and application process in securing DENR permits and other requirements (discharge permit, permit to operate, hazardous generator’s ID, and designation of a pollution control officer), were also tackled to inform stakeholders of their role in preventing further degradation of water quality in Bacuit Bay.

Currently, DENR is working with the LGU to put up a one-stop-shop to assist concerned stakeholders in complying with the abovementioned requirements. Following the instructions of Secretary Cimatu to dedicate a large portion of the DENR presence in Palawan to focus on the efforts of Task Force El Nido, the agency is also working on building an additional office and a bacteriological laboratory where the EMB can immediately perform necessary water tests without having to fly back to Manila every now and then.

“There is still so much to be done but we are banking on the same unified efforts we manifested in the early undertakings of Task Force El Nido. We are confident that as we meet our ultimatum in May 2019, we can present to the public an improved water quality in Bacuit Bay that is safe and fit for bathing and swimming,” RED Adornado concluded. ###







Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has vowed to do everything in his power to protect workers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from “fearless, cunning and greedy” individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.

Cimatu made the promise as he condemned “in the strongest sense of the word” the brutal killing of DENR forest ranger BienvenidoVeguilla Jr. by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan recently.

“I will never allow another crime such as the killing of Mr. Veguilla to happen to any of my people,” the former Armed Forces chief said during a budget hearing held at the House of Representatives last Friday.

“This incident shows how greed and disregard for our laws can have appalling consequences on people and our society,” Cimatu added.

Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City showed that Veguilla—together with fellow forest ranger JenuelCasel, forest extension officer HersonCaliao, and park rangers Marvin Flamiano, Godensio Caber and NorlitoJongay—were conducting a forest patrol in the afternoon of Sept. 4 in an area covered by the National Greening Program when they heard the sound of a chainsaw as they passed through Barangay Pasadena.

Veguilla’s group followed the sound until they saw some men slicing a felled tree with a chainsaw. These men suddenly ran away upon seeing the DENR team, leaving behind the chainsaw which Veguilla’s group was able to secure.

On their way home and about a hundred meters away from the site, the DENR forest officers were chased by a group of six men armed with a bolo. Veguilla was able to fire his service weapon as he and his companions were running for safety.

However, Veguilla was cornered and hacked to death, while the others were able to seek help from the nearby barangay and police offices.

Veguilla sustained deep, multiple stab wounds on the head, arms and other parts of the body.

One of the suspects identified as Filman Flores was wounded by Veguilla’s shots and was brought to the hospital.

Flores and another suspect, Gerardo “Carding” Fulgencio, are now under police custody. A manhunt operation is ongoing for the remaining four suspects.

Cimatu said the incident calls for the enactment of a law creating an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR.

“We believe that the creation of an Enforcement Bureau under the DENR can effectively stop illegal logging, smuggling of wildlife species and other environmental crimes,” Cimatu pointed out.

The DENR chief appealed to House members present during the budget hearing to help the DENR have this Enforcement Bureau in the soonest time possible.

Last Friday, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado, on behalf of Cimatu, visited Veguilla’s wake to extend the DENR’s condolences and financial assistance to the family.

Two units of chainsaw, Veguilla’s service firearm and the bolo allegedly used to kill him have been recovered from the crime scene and are now in police custody.

Charges for murder have been filed at the Puerto Princesa City Prosecutor’s Office under Docket NPS No. 1V0s INQ 19I0224. Other charges in violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 that regulates the use of chainsaw are being prepared.

Veguilla’s remains lie in state at his home in Barangay Bagong Bayan in El Nido. He is survived by his wife Eloisa, an elementary school teacher, and their six children.

The 52-year-old Veguilla served as reserved warden at the DENR MIMAROPA from 1980 to 1997. He then worked as contractual protected area ranger and forest ranger from 1998 to September 2015.

In October 2015, he was appointed as forest ranger in the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area.

Veguilla was described by his family and colleagues as hardworking and dedicated. He diligently reported for work and helped out even during weekends and holidays. ###


Photo Releases

January 27, 2019. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – MIMAROPA Region supports the “Battle for Manila Bay,” the 192-kilometer harbour that has become part of its home for decades now.


DENR Palawan and CENRO PPC personnel joined the 1st SUBARAW Biodiversity Festival Parade and Float Competition last November 11, 2018 at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

"Di po namin kaya kung kami lang sa DENR ang kikilos kaya nagpapasalamat po kami sa ating lokal na pamahalaan at mga partner agencies na kasama namin sa nakaraan at sa susunod pang 20 taon ng pangangalaga sa El Nido."

-Regional Executive Director Henry A. Adornado

Themed "Nurturing shared responsibility for biodiversity conservation, the event celebrates two decades of concerted efforts of various stakeholders in protecting, saving and conserving El Nido

Taytay CENRO Pablo Cruz welcomes guests at the 20th anniversary celebration of ENTMRPA. "We thank you and reconize your roles in making our activities in 2018 successful and meaningful."

Turn-over Ceremony of EMB-MIMAROPA Regional Director

"Today, we celebrate not only the 19th anniversary of Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape. We also celebrate the hard work and dedication of countless men and women, partner agencies and groups who have been one with DENR in protecting our beloved MSPLS, "ARD Vince Tuddao, Jr., expresses his thanks to PENRO Palawam, CENRO Taytay, MSPSLS Protected Area Management Office Management and various stakeholders who have been the agency's partners in upholding the welfare of Malampaya Sound above all else.

ARD Vince Tuddao, Jr., CENRO Allan Valle and PASu Alexander Mancio handed over to partner agencies, NGOs Pos and LGUs plaques and certificate of appreciation for their exemplary dedication and untiring support to the programs and projects of the Department within the Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape.

Malampaya Foundation, represented by its Exxecutive Director Karen Ag (second form left) extends to CENRO law enforcers, whom she described as environmental heroes, conservation incentive in the form of one year accident and two sacks of rice each from July-December 2019.

Tank you Malamapaya Foundation!

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