Jet skiers face sanctions for entering El Nido protected area

By Genesis Menisis

June 28, 2023, 5:30 pm

<p><strong>ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD.</strong> Jet skis are seen in this undated photo parked on one of the islands of El Nido. Such watercraft is forbidden from entering the El Nido Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area.<em> (Photo courtesy of Gerry Collado)</em></p>

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD. Jet skis are seen in this undated photo parked on one of the islands of El Nido. Such watercraft is forbidden from entering the El Nido Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area. (Photo courtesy of Gerry Collado)

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – Environment officials here have recommended legal action against a group of jet skiers who repeatedly entered illegally the El Nido Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) from June 6 to 9 this year.

The recommendation was made by ENTMRPA Protected Area Superintendent Mildred Suza during an inquiry conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Environmental Protection Tuesday afternoon.

Suza said that 14 members of the Iloilo Watercraft Association (IWA) were seen riding jet skis in several areas in the waters of El Nido and Taytay which are within the ENTMRPA, in violation of Sec. 20g of Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018 and several other laws.

She said aside from E-NIPAS law, the group also violated provisions of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) resolution prohibiting jet skis and other motorized sports equipment inside the protected area and the Tourism Code of El Nido.

However, out of the 14 jet skiers monitored by environmental agents only Vincent Tajanlangit, Jerry Collado, Benjie Bastian, Dean Sanson, Julian Juan Tong, Ian Golez and Paul Tinsay were positively identified.

The seven were caught because of their social media posts on their El Nido excursion.

Suza explained that she tried to reach out to IWA, but her messages were ignored.

“After the first sighting of a jet ski on June 6, immediately, I instructed our Assistant Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) to investigate the origin and identification of persons or group responsible and submit a spot report for the information of our DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) higher office,” she said.

“The group was told that jet skiing is prohibited inside the protected area and they were advised to immediately coordinate with PAMO (Protected Area Management Office) but the message was ignored,” she added.

Suza noted that Assistant PASu Jennel Casel met the group of jet skiers on June 7 and told them once again that jetskiing is not allowed inside the protected area.

The IWA members supposedly said they had coordinated with the local government of El Nido, local police and the Philippine Coast Guard, a claim the agencies later denied.

The group was again seen jet-skiing later that day, in apparent defiance of authorities’ warnings.

Suza said Casel’s men tried to chase the jet skiers but the engine of their speedboat malfunctioned.

It was claimed that the park rangers sought assistance from law enforcement agencies but no action was taken.

For his part, Board Member Ryan Maminta, chair of the committee on environmental protection, said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will wait for the final recommendation and action of the PAMB before they take further action on the matter.

He said concerned government agencies, particularly law enforcement personnel might be summoned to another meeting to be grilled on their apparent inaction against the erring jet skiers.

“We will also come up with a recommendation as to the legislative actions to be taken. One thing mentioned is to allow regulated activities and areas that can be allowed,” Maminta said.

Meanwhile, Save El Nido, a civil society group has also sought the intervention of the El Nido local government against the group reportedly headed by Tajanlangit and for them to be declared as persona non grata in the town.

“We hope that, aside from the PAMB, you will discuss this in the municipality and in the municipal council for the possibility of declaring Mr. Vincent Tajanlangit and company as persona non grata,” Save El Nido said in a letter to the municipal government. (PNA)