Remove and self-demolish structures built on the waters and within the easement zones of Coron, Palawan within 30 days.
This is the order issued by the Task Force Coron of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ((DENR) to 75 owners whose establishments are located in four barangays namely Tagumpay, Poblacion 1, Poblacion 3 and Poblacion 5. These establishments include hotels, restaurants, dive shops, laundry shops, and lodging and boarding houses.
The order is cited in the Notices to Vacate served by the task force to the erring establishments.
The Notice to Vacate specified provisions of the Water Code of the Philippines which prohibit occupation of river banks, sea shores and lakes within a zone of three meters in urban areas and 40 meters in forest areas. Barangay Tagumpay is classified as timberland, the rest as urban areas.
The Notice also cited the Civil Code of the Philippines which defines shores “and others of similar character” as property of public dominion. The Civil Code also declares as nuisance “establishment, business or condition of property, or anything else which obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any body of water.”
“Malinaw po sa batas na wala dapat nakatayong mga istruktura sa mga ganitong lugar. Ipinapatupad lang po namin kung ano ang nasa batas para maprotektahan at mapanatiling malinis, maayos, at maganda ang bayan ng Coron,” Engineer Roman Legaspi, head of Task Force Coron said.
Coron is famous for its pristine island beaches and breathtaking landscapes. It receives an increasing number of tourists every year, with an estimate of 178,000 tourists recorded in 2016.
The influx of tourists prompted proliferation of business establishments, some of which do not only encroach easement zones, but were also found to have contributed to water pollution by discharging untreated wastewater directly into Coron Bay.
This aggravated Coron’s water problem, which is mainly attributed to the town’s lack of a centralized wastewater treatment facility.
“Kaya hindi lang encroachment ang tinitingnan natin. Sinisiguro rin natin na sumusunod ang mga business establishment sa mga batas ukol sa tamang paraan ng pagtatapon ng basura at maruming tubig, at iba pang batas na nagpoprotekta sa ating kalikasan,” Legaspi expressed.
The DENR Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) created Task Force Coron on Feb. 26, 2018 in response to an order of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to ensure enforcement of environmental laws in the country’s prime beach destinations.
In a related development, DENR Mimaropa cautions establishment owners affected by the cleanup drive in Coron and elsewhere in the region not to deal with impostors posing as DENR officials.