The Department of Environment and Natural Resources served on Wednesday, Cease and Desist Orders to 10 hotels and restaurants which were found gravely polluting Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan, one of the country’s tourism hot spots undergoing massive rehabilitation.

The CDO, signed by Environmental Management Bureau - MIMAROPA Regional Director Atty. Michael Drake Matias, stated that the following hotels discharge wastewater continuously without valid permits, a clear violation of Rule 14.12 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9275 or The Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004-El Nido Sea Shell Resorts and Hotel in Brgy. Buena Suerte; Doublegem Beach Resort and Hotel, Buko Beach Resort, Panorama Resort (Mangonana Inc.), Four Seasons Seaview Hotel, and Stunning Republic Beach Resort, in Brgy. Corong-corong; and Sava Beach Bar/Sava Nest Egg Inc., El Nido Beach Hotel, and The Nest El Nido Resorts and Spa, Inc. in Brgy. Masagana.

Under the said law, “Disapproved applications or suspended or revoked wastewater discharge permits shall not grant any right or privilege to the applicant or former permit holder to discharge its waste water into any body(ies) of water and /or land. Any discharge shall be a ground for the immediate issuance of a cease and desist order.”

The CDO further noted, the hotels discharged wastewater that are greatly exceeding the allowable DENR standards “without any consideration of its impact and effect to the receiving body of water,” in this case, Bacuit Bay.

The Order specified that the result of the laboratory analysis on the wastewater taken from said establishments went beyond the DENR General Effluent Standards for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). BOD is a measure of the quantity of oxygen used by microorganisms when decomposing organic materials present in water. It provides an index on how discharged wastewater affects its receiving environment. A high BOD indicates high amount of organic matter present in the water sample.

Meanwhile, under orders from the Pollution Adjudication Board, the DENR also served a CDO to Cuna Hotel in Brgy. Maligaya, which has an existing complaint of discharging blackish and foul smelling wastewater. Likewise, effluent sample taken from the said hotel has greatly exceeded the water quality standard set by the Department. The CDO issued to Cuna Hotel shall remain in force and in effect until modified or lifted by the Board or the DENR Secretary.

To ensure erring establishments refrain from discharging wastewater, a team from DENR MIMAROPA spearheaded by its regional EMB, implemented the CDO by sealing all identified 10 hotels’ water line and facilities from their kitchens to the comfort rooms (faucets, kitchen sinks, lavatory, sewer lines, outlet pipes,etc); and by posting a notice of their violations to the public.

“It is a tedious process but that is what the law prescribes,” RD Matias remarked. “We make sure all our actions are done in due process,” he pointed out.

The establishments are placed under close watch to ensure their compliance with the Order. Nonetheless, the DENR team is also monitoring the rest of business structures in El Nido by continuously checking their wastewater discharges.

“We have initial investigations done on other hotels and restaurants and we are just waiting if results of their effluent samples would merit issuance of CDO,” MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado announced.

“Until these erring establishments have shaped up, we have no other choice but to enforce the law and stop them from polluting El Nido,” he remarked.

The ongoing rehabilitation of El Nido forms part of the strong directive of Secretary Roy Cimatu to protect all bodies of water in the country so that the people may enjoy their most beneficial use. The DENR has likewise called for solidarity of public and private sectors in environment protection initiatives to achieve and ensure clean water for all.

“We have longed benefited from El Nido. It is about time we all realize that we have a shared responsibility to protect and save it from degradation so that we and the generations to come can still savor the beauty and natural resources that this wonderful island has to offer, ” the director concluded. (Photos and reports from EMB MIMAROPA and El Nido PAO.) ###