MANILA - Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat on Friday criticized the mayor of resort town El Nido in Palawan for her alleged insincerity in implementing environmental laws in the popular tourist destination.
Three Cabinet officials, including Puyat, met with El Nido Mayor Nieves Rosendo earlier this week when they checked the island's environmental issues and compliance with policies.
"Sinabihan na namin na 'yung mga boats, 'wag nang nakaharang sa harap kasi 'yun ay nagpapataas ng fecal coliform. Noong pumunta kami wala," Puyat said in an interview on DZMM.
(We told her to remove the boats from the beachfront because it increases fecal coliform. When we went to check, nothing.)
Two bodies of water in the town had failed water safety tests after registering high levels of fecal coliform.
"To be fair, impressed ako sa pinakita niya pero malungkot ako dahil nung umalis ako, I was sent pictures, parang 'yung pinakita lang niya ay 'yung maganda," she said.
(To be fair, I was impressed with what we saw but I'm sad that when we left, I was sent pictures, it seems the mayor only showed us the good parts.)
"Diretsuhin na natin, si mayor, yes, pakitang-tao. Hindi ko nagugustuhan na iba 'yung pinakita niya tapos pag alis namin, balik sa dati," she said.
(Let's be frank with the mayor, yes, it was all for show. I did not like that she implemented change when we were there, but allowed it to go back to what it was after we left.)
Rosendo, meanwhile, said the local government has yet to find a permanent dock for boats. Boat tours to lagoons and beach islands jump off from a beach front at the center of town.
"We have more than 200 beaches pero 'yan ay nasa ibang island. Within El Nido town, we have 4 [pero] wala kaming backdoor ng El Nido, lahat ay [beach] front," she said.
(We have more than 200 beaches but those are located in other islands. Within El Nido town, we have 4 but we don't have a backdoor, all are beach fronts.)
The local government is crafting orders to regulate the docking of boats and to establish common cooking areas for tourists, the mayor said.
The national government is willing to give Rosendo "a chance," Puyat said.
"Sana totohanin niya, hindi lang bola," she said.
(I hope she sees it through, not fake it.)
The national government launched an environmental crackdown in El Nido after it rehabilitated famed beach destination Boracay from April to October.
Boracay was closed to tourists for six months after President Rodrigo Duterte described its waters as "cesspools" because of sewage woes.
Coron in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, Siargao in Surigao del Norte and Puerto Galera in Mindoro will undergo a similar environmental audit and clean-up, Puyat earlier said.