FIRST, it was Oslob, which decided to close a sandbar and dive sites around Sumilon Island for a week to conduct a cleanup.
Now, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale wants the southwestern town of Moalboal, which is home to 20 dive sites, to do the same before the expected droves of local and foreign tourists arrive for the summer holiday.
Magpale said she will ask local officials to limit the number of tourists who can swim or hold water-related activities on the coastline.
However, she said that there’s no need to make the shore off-limits to visitors.
The vice governor also urged other local government units with tourism sites to follow suit.
Moalboal Mayor Inocentes Cabaron, for his part, said that there’s no need to do an immediate cleanup since they conduct an annual coastal cleanup in September.
He also said that local officials and operators of the town’s 27 dive shops conduct a yearly Scubasurero operation, or underwater cleanup, to ensure the dive sites are clean.
To institutionalize these underwater cleanups, the Municipal Council is set to pass an ordinance that will require all dive shops to conduct regular Scubasurero operations as a requirement for the renewal of their business permit.
Cabaron also said that they’ve made sure that all 40 resort operators and owners are responsible for the waste of their guests.
Yesterday, seven sacks of garbage were collected by scuba divers who participated in the second day of the coastal cleanup in Oslob.
But Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr. told SunStar Cebu that majority of what they found in the three dive sites were mostly wooden and plant debris and only a few plastics.
In Lapu-Lapu, the City Government created a team to monitor beach areas and other tourist destinations.
Mayor Paz Radaza also ordered the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to conduct a weekly underwater cleanup.
“Lisud na gud atong atensyon matawag. Maayo molihok ta (It’s better to take the initiative than to have our attention called),” she said.
She also instructed personnel of the City’s Material Recovery Facility and Clean and Green to clean public beaches.
She said the City Tourism Office will monitor resorts, hotels and other establishments to ensure that they comply with the City’s rules and regulations, while the City Health Office will monitor and test the seawater to make sure it is still safe for beachgoers.
“Atong katuyuan nga ang turista always safe sa dagat (Our aim is to make sure that the tourists are always safe in the water),” Radaza said.
Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the inter-agency task force on Boracay to close the famous beach destination for six months starting April 26.
The temporary closure is seen by the National Government as a short-term solution to address the environmental woes hounding Boracay.
Duterte had threatened to arrest and file appropriate charges against local offiicals responsible for resort owners’ supposed defiance of environmental rules and regulations.