Virgin Island’s ‘Blatant Degradation’ Alarms Bohol Execs

Garbage now litter the once unspoiled Virgin Island, prompting the Bohol provincial government to call on the local government unit (LGU) of Panglao to stop playing blind on its blatant degradation.

A team sent by Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto found out about the island’s state during a site inspection on the existing seafood market on Virgin Island in Panglao on April 14.

The inspection team included acting Bohol Environment Management Office head Jovencia Ganub, Maria Villa Pelindingue of the Coastal Resource Management (CRM) unit, Melanie del Valle of the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) unit of the provincial government, ESWM focal person Manuel Fudolin, some personnel from Panglao Bantay Dagat, and Process Foundation executive director Emilia Roslinda, representing the non-government organization or the civil society organization.

The inspection team presented its findings and recommendations during the board meeting of the Panglao Island and Tagbilaran Executive Council (PITEC) on April 26 at the People’s Mansion in Tagbilaran City.

The team found that there were 11 food stalls installed with tables and chairs and portable stoves, while some used firewood to cook food ordered by the guests.

“Seafood served include fish (tuna, grouper, emperor fish), fresh shells like abalone and spider shells locally known as saang, squid, sea cucumber, sea urchin and seaweeds,” the inspection team reported.

Some vendors were also selling banana cue, fresh fruits, boiled eggs, soft drinks, water, and other beverages.

The inspection team also found poor garbage disposal practices as evidenced by garbage scattered on the sand.

“Garbage were placed on sacks and allegedly brought to the mainland for disposal. No segregation of waste is being practiced. Some vendors even throw the garbage on the sand,” the team also reported.

The inspection team also learned that some of the vendors do not have permits from the Panglao LGU, while others have failed to renew their permits.

“One of the vendors said that they have been in the area 10 years ago in the Isola de Francisco but when the claimant started developing his ‘titled’ island, they were ordered to vacate the area and decided to transfer to the sand bar,” according to the team’s report.

The team recommended that once the permits of vendors expire, the LGU should demolish all structures made of light materials on the island.

“The island should be free from any commercial activity, consistent with Presidential Proclamation No. 1801 declaring Panglao Island as Tourist Zone. The Virgin Island must be for recreational activities like swimming and snorkeling only,” the team recommended in its report to the PITEC.

The team also recommended that the municipal government of Panglao should also stop issuing and renewing vendors’ permits.

There was a recommendation that only legitimate vendors with permits should be allowed to sell in the area and they should be informed in advance that their permits would no longer be renewed.

However, this recommendation was considered by some PITEC board members as “a window to a loophole” and that there should strictly be no selling allowed on the island to preserve it from the impact of excessive human activities.

The team also recommended that the Panglao municipal government should assign its Bantay Dagat team to monitor the area, strictly implement proper garbage segregation and disposal, review the CRM plan and zoning ordinance on the designation and utilization of the area and implement the same and include the concern in the discussion between the Panglao Island Tourism Estate and the Review and Development Committee. (Angeline Valencia/PNA)

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