Lapu-Lapu to remove floating cottages off its coast

·3 min read

LAPU-LAPU City does not allow floating cottages to operate on its waters.

Mayor Junard "Ahong" Chan issued the statement on Saturday morning, Aug. 27, 2022.

The mayor was on his way to Caohagan Island to distribute educational supplies with his wife, Lapu-Lapu City Lone District Rep. Ma. Cynthia Chan, when he spotted four floating cottages anchored off the coast of Barangay Marigondon.

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

He said the owners of the floating cottages did not ask the City if they could anchor off or 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 in Cebuano.

He said the floating cottages that were spotted earlier off the coast of Punta Engaño had 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, he said.

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

He said he understood that owners’ need to make a living, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected their livelihood, but he could not afford to sacrifice the welfare of the environment.

"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.

He also noted that the anchors could damage corals.

Chan said the City Council will have to conduct a study if the City plans to allow the operation of floating cottages like where these will be located and how to deal with 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 vicinities can be rehabilitated.

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 “no-activity areas.”

However, Garcia 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 the city.

As to the temporary public market in Barangay Catarman, which was tagged as a major contributor to the high FCL, Suan said the vendors would 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.

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