MANILA - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is calling for the relocation of informal settlers who have settled along the coast of El Nido in Palawan, a popular tourist destination.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the local government of Palawan has issued a final notice for 24 families to vacate houses they built along Corong Corong Beach in El Nido.
"We are working closely with the local government to ensure that the relocation site for these informal settler families is prepared as soon as possible," Cimatu said in a statement Saturday.
Local environment officials, according to the DENR, noticed that the houses built on stilts lacked toilets and that settlers disposed their waste directly into the water.
The informal settlers were also found to be in violation of the easement zone, which prohibits the use and occupation of any structure within a certain part of El Nido.
"You can smell the stench in that area. These activities have a significant effect [on] the water quality in the immediate area around the houses. Aside from the fact that they do not have toilets, they are also encroaching on the easement zone, so we hope to move them to a new location soon," Cimatu said.
Government agencies have stepped up efforts to protect and rehabilitate the country's top tourist destinations following President Rodrigo Duterte's reprimand over the condition of Boracay island, which he had described as a "cesspool."
Earlier this month, the DENR also issued notices to vacate to 32 El Nido businesses, including resorts and restaurants found to have structures falling inside the easement zone.
The establishments were given a month to remove structures found to be in violation of the rule.