Groups ink deal with government for El Nido’s ‘sustainability’

PROMISING to work together toward the sustainability of El Nido, Palawan, groups recently signed an agreement with government agencies to protect and strengthen the natural resources of the booming tourist destination.

“It is refreshing to see this level of commitment for the protection of our environment coming from our stakeholders,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu was quoted in a statement as saying.

Cimatu issued his statement after ordering a crackdown in tourism areas, particularly beach resorts, to prevent another “Boracay.”

The world-renowned Boracay, an island paradise in Malay, Aklan, is besieged by environmental problems.

President Duterte is set to decide whether to shut down Boracay for six months as recommended by Task Force Boracay led by Cimatu.

Cimatu said the pact signed by the various stakeholders in El Nido will boost its sustainability as a tourist destination.

“This covenant that our officials signed, together with the local government, non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations, is the right step toward achieving sustainability in El Nido, one of the most beautiful and most biodiverse ecotourism destinations in the Philippines,” he added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area Superintendent Alexander E. Mancio and El Nido Mayor Nieves C. Rosento, signed the renewal of the Conservation Agreement for El Nido.

Signing the agreement with Mancio and Rosento were Malampaya Foundation Inc. (MFI) President Belinda C. Racela, Barangay Bucana Chairman Aracel A. Bacolod, Barangay Buena Suerte Chairman Ricky C. Ballena and the people’s organizations Pagkakaisa Pagtutulungan Kalikasan Pakaingatan Ecotourism Service Cooperative of Barangay Buena Suerte and Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Magsasaka, Mangingisda at Kababaihan Tungo sa Maunlad na Kinabukasan ng Pamayanan of Barangay Bucana.

“This partnership aims to implement and sustain ecotourism and other livelihood activities for the people of El Nido. MFI will train and provide livelihood programs for the people, while our local officials, together with the local government, will support them,” Cimatu said.

Under the agreement, the parties also resolved to implement and maintain programs aimed at protecting the environment, including the establishment and maintenance of materials-recovery facilities, tree and mangrove seedling nurseries, scheduling regular coastal and sea clean-up activities, and cooperatively guarding and patrolling the seas and forests of El Nido.

Cimatu said the conservation agreements signed in El Nido go hand in hand with the mission of Task Force El Nido to save and protect the area, known for its beautiful islands, spotless beaches, crystal-clear water and towering limestone cliffs. The task force is composed of the DENR, the Environmental Management Bureau, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and the El Nido local government.

El Nido is part of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area, a 90,321-hectare key biodiversity area protected under Presidential Proclamation 32 signed by then-President Joseph E. Estrada in 1998.

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