Chan: Floating cottages from Cordova must leave

·3 min read

LIKE its neighbor Cordova town, Lapu-Lapu City will also not allow floating cottages to operate on its waters.

Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan gave the warning on Saturday morning, Aug. 27, 2022, shortly after seeing several floating cottages from Cordova anchored off the coast of Barangay Marigondon in Lapu-Lapu City.

The mayor and his wife, Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Ma. Cynthia Chan, were on their way to Caohagan Island to distribute educational supplies when they spotted four floating cottages.

He said the floating cottages were from the neighboring town of Cordova, where the operation of floating and fixed cottages will be temporarily halted starting Monday, Aug. 29, to rehabilitate the polluted seawater.

Chan said the owners of the floating cottages did not ask for permission from City Hall to operate in Barangay Marigondon.

“I would just like to warn the owners that they are not allowed to operate in Lapu-Lapu city,” Chan said in Cebuano.

He gave them one week to remove the floating cottages or the City would confiscate what he described as illegal structures.

“But then the problem will be where to put them. As I discovered, these structures don’t have septic tanks. Human wastes from their toilets go directly into the water when flushed. That’s dangerous,” he said, adding that the anchors could also damage corals.

He said the floating cottages that were earlier seen off the coast of Punta Engaño have already been brought to shore.

Chan said the City takes extra care to prevent pollution, especially since tourism is one of its major industries.

Tourists flock to the city because of its clean beaches and crystal clear water, Chan said. Punta Engaño is particularly popular among local and foreign tourists for its white sand beach and five-star resorts.

He said he has a standing order to City Agriculture and Fishery Office Head Alex Baring to remove floating cottages.

He said he understands that owners need to make a living, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic affected their livelihood, but the environment should not be sacrificed.

“The City relies heavily on tourism, which employs many residents. If our waters become polluted, then tourists will no longer come,” he said in Cebuano.

Chan said the City Council will have to conduct a study if the operation of floating cottages should be allowed, and discuss where exactly they can operate and how they should manage their garbage and other wastes, among other things.

During the stakeholders’ meeting at the Cordova Sports Complex on Aug. 17, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia gave owners of floating and fixed cottages in Barangays Poblacion and Catarman until Aug. 28 to operate so the water in the affected areas can be rehabilitated.

The town is home to 300 commercial fixed cottages and 103 floating cottages.

Tests revealed that the fecal coliform level (FCL) in the water exceeded the allowable level. This was blamed on the unregulated establishment of cottages on and along the town’s coast.

Cordova Mayor Cesar Suan pointed out that the water in Barangays Poblacion and Catarman is no longer suitable for swimming.

The governor asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) 7 and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to declare affected zones as “no-activity areas.”

Garcia, though, did not say swimming would not be allowed in all of the town’s beaches.

Suan said they would ask the DENR-EMB 7 to check the water in other parts of Cordova.

As to the temporary public market in Barangay Catarman, which was tagged as a major contributor to the high FCL, Suan said the vendors will transfer to a new market facility next year.

To prevent further contamination of the town’s coast, Suan said the Municipal Government will implement proper solid and liquid waste management in Barangays Catarman and Poblacion.