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Loyzaga, other Cabinet members unite to tackle environmental issues in top PH tourist spots

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga joined Cabinet members in a meeting on Friday to discuss immediate actions and steps to address major environmental concerns in the country’s prime tourist destinations.

Present were Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Frasco and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa along with local chief executives from the five Green Economy Model (GEM) sites — El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.

The five GEMs are prime tourist destinations whose water resource management, solid waste management, land use planning and enforcement of easement zones, and public-private partnerships are closely monitored by national government agencies including the DENR.

During the meeting, local chief executives raised concerns on water quality in their localities, management of solid waste, and water security. They reported their initial actions on these issues and presented areas for further collaboration with the national government.

Secretary Loyzaga said the DENR, through its Water Resource Management Office, stands ready to provide technical assistance on water concerns, stressing the importance of having a stable water supply for all local government units (LGUs).

She added the DENR will continue to work with national government agencies and LGUs in the implementation of programs to address the problem of solid waste and plastic pollution. This includes programs in collaboration with the country’s development partners such as the 60 million euro Green Economy Program.

Secretary Frasco provided information on the major programs of the DOT that includes the development of tourism areas and establishment of call centers while Secretary Herbosa reiterated the continued establishment of new hospitals and expansion of Health Care Centers by the DOH.

DILG Secretary Abalos instructed the LGUs present to undertake immediate measures to address the water quality and solid waste challenges in their respective areas within six (6) months. He expressed concern that beach areas in these GEM sites may face the possibility of temporary moratorium similar to the rehabilitation case of Boracay Island.

One of the immediate steps is a collaboration among agencies in the conduct of a Waste and Water (W2) Summit to accelerate actions to address the two most pressing challenges facing the country — waste management and water security.

The summit aims to enhance knowledge and awareness and instill better appreciation of the important role of LGUs in waste and water management. It aims to operationalize commitments and advance concrete actions to address waste management and water security challenges at the local level through sustainable and transformative measures. It also aims to strengthen coordination and linkages of national government agencies with local governments and other stakeholders.

Expected participants include national government agencies, local chief executives, subject matter experts and stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academe, and other sectors to highlight the whole-of-society approach needed in addressing this important issue. #

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