Capitol-Lila showdown seen over controversial whale shark feeding

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Capitol-Lila showdown seen over controversial whale shark feeding

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NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.

A showdown between officials of the Capitol and Lila over the controversial whale shark feeding in the town is expected to blow up this New Year with provincial and municipal leaders taking up contrasting sides on the issue.

Lila town Mayor Atty. Jed Piollo broke his silence over the whale shark brouhaha, saying he does not want to be dictated.

It was not clear whether he meant or not his refusal to an order for a moratorium over the whale shark activities going on off barangay Taug of this town.


Mayor Piollo, in his message during Dr. Jose Rizal’s day celebration, pointed out that he has to protect the interest of the townsfolk over the whale shark activities.

He said he has no personal interest whatsoever in the said venture.

Citing his police power, he said, that if the interest of his people is suppressed he won’t hesitate to defend that interest.

The mayor also scored on what he called fake news that apparently came out in social media, particularly the one that showed the whale shark is being ridden on by swimmers.

He described as fake news on ‘butanding’ being frolicked by swimmers as like wine being laced with a toxic substance that if one drink from it will poison him.

He encouraged the people to stand by him for their principles.


For his part, meanwhile, Jagna Mayor Joseph Ranola said that such activity, referring to whale shark activity, is a matter of management and practice.


He cited the operation and maintenance of oceanarium in Manila and other places.

The mayor is an advocate for sea mammals’ preservation and protection even as catching manta rays in his turf must be studied well.

Government agencies have strictly banned the hunting of manta rays in the name of environmental conservation.


Just a week before New Year’s day, acting governor Rene Relampagos wanted the whale shark activities here stopped by issuing and executive order No. 57 for the mayor to issue a moratorium on it (whale shark interaction-related activities).

This is issued “pending the passage of an ordinance regulating this tourism activity, duly approved by Sangguniang Panlalawigan in coordination with DENR, BFAR, DOT and all other concerned agencies and to implement all laws and regulations on the protection of marine species.”


A copy of the executive order was reportedly served on Dec. 23 by provincial legal officer Atty. Nilo Ahat and Bohol Environment Management Officer BEMO head Jovencia Ganub as witnessed by Liza Macalandag of Free The Whale Sharks Coalition- Bohol.

Mayor’s office executive assistant secretary Benjamin Caga-anan received the said copy apparently for the mayor’s information and action.

“The EO said that the provincial government found out that the municipality of Lila has not passed any ordinance nor resolution which lay down policies on whale shark interaction. It was also discovered the private operator of this whale shark activity has not even secured a business permit but there were already boats docked at the shoreline which were illegally used in whale shark interaction.”

“We are not after the total ban of whale shark interaction but only on the ecological trapping of marine wildlife by provisioning and/or act of feeding and luring and other activities which will harm these marine mammals and which are in violation of the law,” the EO said.

But the order appeared to be snubbed by the operators of the whale-sharks related activities since they continued their operations thereafter.

In a visit by BNT in the place on Dec. 24, 2019, it was learned that tourists vans and buses were seen parked along the narrow national highway of said barangay bringing guests to the shoreline to take them to the sea where the whale-watching is taking place.

A resident here said that the visitors for whale watching activity has grown significantly from just a handful of visitors availing of the whale-watching when it started sometime in November 2019.

Each domestic guest is imposed with P500 while each foreign, P1,000, the report said. (rvo)

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