Press Release
April 11, 2006

Filed Senate bill to improve the quality of beaches and coastal recreation water

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, filed Senate Bill 731 or the "Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure and Health Act" that calls for the adoption of stricter criteria to improve the quality of beaches and coastal recreation water in the country.

"It's the time of the year again when many Filipinos flock to beaches or water theme parks and resorts. We should take all precautions in protecting beachgoers from accidents especially drowning. We should ensure that recreational facilities, whether private or public, adhere to high standards of safety," says Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party.

Senate Bill 731 seeks to improve the quality of beaches and coastal recreation water by adopting consistent criteria that would enhance public health and safety as well as environmental quality.

According to Villar, "Beach or resort property owners as well as their management and staff should ensure that guests or visitors in their properties are not only attended to very well but more importantly, would be safe in their premises. Otherwise, they have no business to be open for business," adds Villar.

Under the bill, "coastal recreation water" is defined as water adjacent to public beaches and marine coastal water including bays or lagoons used by the public for swimming, bathing, surfing and other water sports or hobbies.

Villar cites on his bill, "Increased population and urbanization of watershed areas have contributed to the decline in the environmental quality of coastal water. Unless concrete measures are taken, our beaches and coastal recreation water will continue to deteriorate."

Once implemented into law, the Villar-authored bill tasks the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to adopt water quality criteria for coastal recreation water that will be in accordance with existing environmental laws and policies.

The criteria will cover and consider among others floatable materials on the beaches that may pose risks to swimmers; the presence of pathogens that may also pose harm upon inhalation or ingestion; water pollution and other potential risks associated with water contact activities.

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