DOT Region V leads tourist site checks

RD Benjamin Santiago

NAGA CITY (Bicol Standard)— Department of Tourism Bicol Regional Director Benjamin Santiago is taking the lead in conducting tourism site assessments, tourism consultations across the region in time for the summer season.

In an interview by the Bicol Standard, Santiago said that since January he has been in three provinces validating and addressing concerns in tourist destinations such as Calaguas and Sombrero Island, among others.

Starting next week, he will be in other provinces to do the same.

Santiago further underscored the importance of security of tourists, for whom they will conduct a program called TopCop (Tourist-Oriented Police for Community Order and Peace) Training for their protection.

Meantime, asked for a reaction on the plan of the DENR to inspect resorts and other tourist destinations in the region after the Boracay mess, he said: “It’s a good move from the DENR to check on poor waste management and possible encroachment on beach areas.”

“We have already alerted them during the Regional Development Council meeting about some infra projects in the east coast of the first congressional district of Albay that are detrimental to tourism, marine biodiversity and mangrove ecosystem,” he told the Bicol Standard.

That said, they have yet to receive an official communication about the DENR’s plan as of press time.

Last week, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR announced that it would soon start inspecting resorts that were earlier issued Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC).

This is to check on solid waste and drainage facilities, sewage, and septage, according to Eva Ocfemia, EMB-Bicol Regional Director.

Said initiatives are in light of the summer season and the recent Boracay crisis.

Meantime, the Department of Interior and Local Government has directed its officials and directors to check for violations of environmental and other laws in their respective areas to prevent the same problems the famous Visayas beach is presently confronting.

"I urge you to help us rectify and solve the problem in Boracay by making a chain of actions in your areas so that other parts of the country will not suffer the same fate," DILG Sec. Eduardo M. Ano told the officials earlier this week.