Catanduanes as Haven for Eco-Tourism?

An article in the Tribune 20 March 2013 mentions Congressman Sarmiento’s strong opposition to coal mining in Catanduanes, which would run counter to his dream to see Catanduanes as a haven for eco-tourism.

Very commendable but this will never happen until the trashing of the beaches, creeks and streets with garbage, which turns tourists off, is addressed and figures show the result. Palawan, with its strict environmental laws, 10 years ago had one flight a day; it now has around 9 flights daily with a large amount of passengers being tourists. Here previously, we had 3 flights a day; now we are lucky to get 1 flight a day, The congressman needs to follow the lead of Mayor Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa and his concern for the environment.

One glaring example is a barangay litter collection point that collapsed months ago between the governor’s hardware store and house, at the edge of the creek with piles of plastic bags leaching into the creek. In our barangay, some people treat the creek as a garbage tip, walk to the bridge and throw full bags of rubbish into San Andres creek, while barangay officials do nothing to prevent it.

All these plastic bags wash out to sea, eaten by dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles, mistaking it for jelly fish that is part of their diet, and die a slow and agonizing death due to starvation, with their stomachs strangled by plastic.

We can only hope that at the barangay elections, new officials will be elected who care about the people and their security (much thieving here) and care of the environment in the barangay.

Despite anti-littering laws and pro-environmental laws, the problem is chronic. Strict policing of the laws needs to be enforced, with fines and jail for repeat offenders for littering which includes throwing cigarette butts on the ground. Legaspi City is another place which has enacted good environmental laws. In Catanduanes it should be island wide, zero littering in land and marine areas.

Many others share this view, too, so we hope the congressman can use his influence to fix this problem, hard as it might be, so he can realize his dream for eco-tourism, otherwise, it will be only just a dream.

Graham Scott
San Andres, Bato