MANILA-- Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Monday said she recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the closure of non-compliant tourism establishments in El Nido.
Puyat wrote to the local government unit of El Nido in September 2018, urging them to address the easement issues and environmental woes of the Palawan tourist draw.
To date, the enforcement of easement zone is currently done by the national government, Romulo-Puyat said.
"I saw the lagoons, they were very dirty already and I wrote to them and Secretary (Roy) Cimatu and Secretary (Eduardo) Año about it. In fact, right now, the easement is being done by the national government, and the overcrowding of the lagoon, it is also the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) that is doing it," she said.
The provincial government and some Cabinet members are set to meet on Wednesday to hold consultations about Palawan.
"The mayor of El Nido is coming here and hopefully, she starts to listen to us, or else... my suggestion to the president is not to close El Nido, but to close only those that are not compliant," the DOT chief said.
Romulo-Puyat said El Nido officials only replied to her notice when the issue was discussed fully on national television.
"That's the only time they replied after, because I am always 'seen zoned.' I wrote to them twice and then nothing," she noted.
After the Boracay shutdown, the government looked out for environmental violators in major destinations in the country, and at the same time, pushed and advocated for sustainable tourism.
Romulo-Puyat acknowledged that some municipalities and provinces have been self-policing, but "other mayors" are still stubborn in enforcing environmental laws in place.
The Tourism head warned that if President Duterte had the political will to close Boracay, it should serve as a reminder to all major tourist destinations in the country to start following local regulations and laws. (PNA)