Majority of Philippine beaches dangerously polluted by human excrement

A pipe in spewing raw sewage, possibly including excrement, into the sea of Boracay Island. Picture by

Dangerous levels of pollution caused by human excrement has been detected in the waters off 60 per cent of popular Philippine beach destinations.

The Environmental Management Bureau has reported that the amount of faecal bacteria — or coliforms — found in most of the country’s “recreational waters” exceeded levels.

According to the EMB’s 2017 , samples were taken from 351 of the agency’s monitoring stations across the country, and, after testing, they found that only 40 per cent of public beaches passed the safety standard.

The EMB also found that more than 2,000 beaches in the country showed a considerably “high” level of the bacteria.

None of the samples taken from the EMB’s 26 monitoring stations in the Central Visayas, and the 36 in the Zamboanga Peninsula, passed the safe standard. Among these samples were those taken from the popular beaches in Panglao, Bohol and Mactan, Cebu.

Topping all the areas that failed the was Bacoor, Cavite, where faecal coliform levels exceeded the safe limit over 6,000 times.

The Bacoor City government had now banned swimming in the area due to the health risk.

The city’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office officer-in-charge, Rolando Vocalan, added that they were taking measures to address the problem, such as relocating informal settlers living next to the sea without proper toilet facilities.

A similar problem was discovered in Bauang, La Union, where coliform levels exceeded the safe limit eight times over, causing rampant water lily growth.

Likewise, all three monitoring stations in Morong, Bataan, reported dangerous levels of pollution caused by excrement.

We have also reported today that 16 illegal wastewater pipes have been uncovered on Boracay Island, which is currently one month into its planned six-month closure. 

The environment secretary Roy Cimatu has said that their prompt removal could help workers foreshorten the period of closure. 

The popular white-sand resort was closed to tourists on April 26 after President Duterte described the island as a “cesspool”.

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