DOH: Results of Puerto Galera water quality tests are now final, ‘accurate’

The results showing that 26 out of 35 areas failed a series of water quality tests in Puerto Galera are final and no longer inconclusive, the Department of Health said.

“Hindi na po tayo mag-aantay pa ng patuloy pa na test. Nakakita na po tayo ng accurate results,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Vergere warned the public to refrain from engaging in occupational and recreational activities in bodies of water that have failed to pass quality tests in the resort town.

Tests conducted on shorelines of Puerto Galera showed that 26 out of 35 sample sites, or 74.29%, failed the water quality analysis.

“Kaya po tayo ay nagpalabas ng joint statement para po tayo ay makapagbigay ng abiso sa local governement at sa public diyan sa Puerto Galera na sana maiwasan muna po natin etong mga recreational at occupational activities because these might cause harm to the health of the community,” Vergere said.

The DOH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a joint statement on Tuesday to officially report the results of the tests and warn the public about the hazards of being exposed to oil and grease contaminants found in the tested water samples.

“We are now issuing this reminder to our citizens especially in Puerto Galera and those who go to Puerto Galera na mag-iingat po tayo because meron po tayong nakita na contamination sa tubig,” said Vergere.

The DOH stressed the importance of heeding this warning to avoid any negative health consequences that may result from exposure to contaminated water.

The issue has sparked an intense exchange in the media among local government officials.

Governor Bonz Dolor, in an ambush interview last Saturday, was the first to disclose that Puerto Galera’s water failed in four consecutive quality tests, raising concerns about its safety for swimming, fishing, and other water activities.

Mayor Rocky Ilagan, without attributing his statement to Dolor, decried as “hasty and premature” the announcement, adding that his office considered it “prudent to maintain the status quo” and await the official positions of the DOH, DENR, and the inter-agency task force on the issue.

READ: Puerto Galera water fails four quality tests, raises safety concerns

MORE: Ilagan decries as ‘hasty and premature’ a declaration Puerto Galera is unsafe

Vergere underscored the need to work closely with the local government officials in Oriental Mindoro “to provide them with guidance and assistance, so that the bodies of water in the affected areas can be safe again.”

Local tourism data shows that from April 3 to 10, 2023, Puerto Galera received a total of 18,757 tourists, with the top sources of foreign visitors during this period being China, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and Germany. There are about 11,000 workers who depend on tourism in the resort town.

Since the sinking in February of MT Princess Empress off the coast of Naujan, about 66 tourist sites across the province have been affected by the environmental disaster.

The Oriental Mindoro tourism industry incurred a little over P900 million in losses due to the oil spill, the Department of Tourism said.

MORE: DOT chief firm on keeping Puerto Galera open despite safety concerns

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