EMB to inspect Bicol beaches
By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- Hundreds of resorts and eco-tourism destinations in Bicol will be inspected for possible violation of environmental rules by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), an official in the region said Tuesday. Eva Ocfemia, EMB-Bicol Regional Director, in a phone interview, said her office would start inspecting resorts that were earlier issued Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) starting this week. Inspection would cover sewage, septage, solid waste and drainage facilities put up by resort owners, she said. “We have to check if the ECCs are followed, but in cases where we find some violations, a notice would be served, or a sanction, and eventually a closure order could be imposed,” Ocfemia said. She said so far, they have not yet received cases of violation of environmental rules and regulations by resort owners across the Bicol peninsula. Asked for an update of the region’s environment, she said: “Overall, Bicol’s bodies of water, river system, and air quality are clean except of course the river channels along Mayon Volcano that were hit by ash falls.” Ocfemia said her office would also engage in a dialogue for updates with different stakeholders, national and local provincial environment management officials concerning the government campaign against environmental pollutions. She said, “at the meeting, we expect to dialogue and ask a report of environmental concerns and issues by the six provincial governors, resort owners, and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices.” Also subject for monitoring are beach lakes, and protected areas such as: the Calaguas Mahabang Buhangin in Camarines Norte which is known for its mile-long powdery sand and crystalline water, reminiscent of Boracay; 7-Island Siete Pecados; Bagasbas and Baybay beaches; and waterfalls in the towns of Mercedes, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Vicente, Basud, and Labo. In Camarines Sur, aside from the Our Lady of Penafrancia Shrine, where millions of devotees and tourist visit every year, other tourist destinations include: Gota Village Resort in Caramoan, Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili town, Consocep Mountain Resort in Tigaon, scenic lakes in Baao, Bato and Buhi, and Mt. Asog in Iriga City, an extinct volcano and home to the Agta indigenous people. In Albay are: Mayon volcano, Mayon Skyline View Deck in Tabaco City; Mt. Malinao in Malinao Vera falls; Sumlang Lake in Camalig; Kawa-Kawa Hill and Natural Park in Ligao City; Lignon Hill Nature Park in Daraga; Quitinday Green Hills Formation Reserve; Quitinday Underground River; Quituinan Hills; Hoyop-hoyopan cave in Camalig; Busay Falls; Vanishing Island in Bacacay; and Black Sand Beaches in Sto. Domingo. In Sorsogon are: the Butanding, firefly watching site in Donsol; Mt. Bulusan National Park; Rizal Beach in Gubat; Subic Beach with its pink sand and Juag Lagoon in Matnog; and San Mateo Hot Spring in Irosin. In Catanduanes are: Puraran Surfing Beach Resort in Baras; Twin Rocks in Virac; Luyang Cave Park in San Andres and Ilihan Point in Bagamanoc. In Masbate are: Catandayagan Falls; Guilatayan Peak; Nailaban Beach; Bat-ongan Peak and Cave; Palani Beach; Pasiagon Beach; Balay na Bato; and Pawa Mangrove Park.