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Fear of becoming Boracay descends on Siargao

Siargao’s “ Cloud 9” is a magnet to surfing aficionados and tourists which brings challenges to officials and residents, among them how to keep the world-renowned island from turning into another Boracay.  Ben Serrano

As domestic and foreign tourist arrivals skyrocketed, Siargao Island is now in danger of turning into another Boracay— garbage and sewage problems.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Jose “ Bingo” Matugas said due to a common fear among residents and officials of their island suffering the same fate as Boracay did, they are now taking the initiative of addressing the problem.

Siargao, considered the surfing Mecca of the country is facing a waste management issue, coupled with largely unregulated development and weak enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

As of now, Matugas admitted the installation of sewerage or sewage systems are still not included in the requirements of application of building permits in the construction of edifices like hotels, houses, business establishments and other structures following a number of foreigners who married Filipinas and some build business establishments in Siargao.

To ensure that solid waste was managed well, local officials are coordinating with concerned government agencies for a clearer waste management and comprehensive tourism plan, Matugas said.

“That’s why we are happy the national government through leadership of Pres. Duterte provided us P25-M funding for the feasibility of the Comprehensive Waste Management Program for the entire Siargao particularly focus on populated areas like Dapa, General Luna and Pilar,” he said.

And since garbage dumpsite is strictly prohibited in tourism island like Siargao, a material recovery facility (MRF) which will not pose environmental hazards or damage will be installed soon, Matugas added.

Composed of 48 islands and islets, which are divided into nine municipalities, Siargao has been named as one of the best surfing spots in the world.

International travel magazine ranked Cloud Nine in General Luna town as the fifth best surfing spot in the world, due to its thick hollow tube waves.

This writer made rounds in General Luna and saw some already segregated garbage but still uncollected.

Residents, who asked not to named, lamented the perennial “delay” in the collection of garbage. By Ben Serrano

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