NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Tourism stakeholders strongly questioned why the closure of Alona beach zone in Panglao was done while the province is doing massive invitation for tourists to start coming to Bohol.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure starting last Thursday.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Ariel Rica told the Chronicle that the closure was ordered following the alarming level of fecal coliform.
He cited the level has reached to 700 to 800 most probable number per 100 milliliters(mpn/100ml) fecal coliform as tested last April.
Resort owners in Alona said it is ironical to close the prime beach area in Panglao while a campaign was launched to promote Bohol as already open to tourists. In fact, the choice of DOT Sec. Bernadette Puyat to prioritized the tourism frontliners in the vaccination roll out is the best indication that we are exerting efforts to promote Bohol as an “open destination amidst pandemic.”
The stakeholders questioned why the closure was not done during the months when Bohol was still on a total lockdown.
They hope the closure will not go beyond a week as few domestic tourists have started to trickle in from Manila.
PENRO Rica said that a team from the Environment Management Board (EMB) will be taking new water samples on July 12 and 13 to be brought to Cebu for laboratory testing. The team will use Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to check the area.
He said the team will check if some establishments have their water or drainage outlet direct to the seawater.
It may be recalled that DENR Sec. Rey Cimatu personally visited Alona in 2018 to check on violators of the 20-meter salvage zone. Eighty of the violators voluntered to demolish their illegal structures after the inspection of Sec. Cimatu.