ENVIRONMENT and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga joined other cabinet members to tackle environmental issues hounding some of the country’s top tourist destinations.
The meeting last Friday was attended by Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Tourism Secretary Christina G. Frasco, and Health Secretary Teodoro J. Herbosa. Also present were the local chief executives that have mandate and jurisdiction over El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte. These areas form the so-called Green Economy Model (GEM).
The water resource and solid waste management, land use planning, and the enforcement of easement zones, as well as public-private partnerships, are closely monitored by national government agencies. The latter includes the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Solid waste, water quality issues
DURING the meeting, local chief executives from the five GEMs raised concerns about water quality in their localities, management of solid waste, and water security and reported their initial actions on these issues. They also presented areas for further collaboration with the national government.
Through the DENR Water Resource Management Office (WRMO), Yulo-Loyzaga said the agency is ready to provide technical assistance on water concerns, stressing the importance of having a stable water supply in the five GEMs.
She vowed to continue working with national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) in the implementation of programs to address the problem of solid waste and plastic pollution, including programs in collaboration with the country’s development partners such as the 60-million euro “Green Economy” program.
Frasco, meanwhile, provided information on the major programs of the Department of Tourism (DOT). These include the development of tourism areas and the establishment of call centers. Meanwhile, Herbosa reiterated the need for the continued establishment of new hospitals and expansion of Health Care Centers by the Department of Health (DOH).
Abalos said he has instructed concerned local chief executives to undertake immediate measures to address the water quality and solid waste challenges in their respective areas.
He also expressed concern that beach areas in these GEM sites may face the possibility of a temporary moratorium similar to the rehabilitation case of Boracay Island.
Waste, water summit
ONE of the immediate steps brought up is the collaboration among agencies in the conduct of a “Waste and Water Summit” to accelerate actions to address waste and water security to enhance knowledge and awareness and instill better appreciation of the important role of LGUs.
Moreover, the summit opes to operationalize the commitments and advance concrete actions to address waste management and water security challenges at the local level through sustainable and transformative measures and strengthen coordination and linkages of national government agencies with local governments and other stakeholders.
Expected participants include national government agencies, local chief executives, subject matter experts, and stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academe, and other sectors to highlight the whole-of-society approach needed in addressing this important issue.