POLA, Oriental Mindoro — Oriental Mindoro Governor Bonz Dolor on Saturday said Puerto Galera and nearby areas failed 4 consecutive water quality tests, deeming the popular tourist destination unsafe for swimming and other water activities.
“As far as water quality is concerned, salt water, from Puerto Galera to Bulalacao, bagsak,” Dolor told reporters here.
“Lumabas kagabi ang pinakahuling resulta, ang Puerto Galera ay bagsak na ang water quality for 4 consecutive tests. Ibig sabihin, prior to Holy Week, may findings na nabagsak ito on the level of oil or grease,” he added.
Dolor said the local government of Puerto Galera earlier objected against the declaration of the state of calamity in the island.
“There was an objection on their part before for the declaration of state of calamity sa Puerto so ang aking decision,” he said, without elaboration why.
When asked if local officials in Puerto Galera could be held liable for allowing tourists and residents to swim in their waters despite knowing that there are traces of grease, the Governor said: “I refuse to comment on that.”
Dolor said he would wait for the official position of the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources before imposing a ban on swimming and water activities in the area.
“I’ll wait for the official declaration of the DOH and the DENR para naman mas matibay yung announcement,” he said.
Meantime, the quality of drinking water in 14 barangays in Pola town and another barangay in Naujan town also failed quality tests, Dolor said.
Air quality tests are okay, he said.
Despite the bad quality of surrounding waters, Puerto Galera will remain open to tourists, the governor said.
“Ang tourism naman natin ay hindi lang dagat. People can still go there but only for the meantime, considering na there is poor quality on the water as far as grease and quality is concerned, we are advising the public to take caution,” he said.
“Yung mga ilog ng Oriental Mindoro, during the holidays, nadiscover nila na ang dami palang ilong ng Oriental Mindoro na magaganda na alternative.”
The oil spill in Mindoro began in late February after the MV Princess Empress sank off the coast of Oriental Mindoro.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources earlier said that damage and losses due to the oil spill is nearing the P1-billion mark.