Cebu governor shuts down top tourist site due to safety issues

The provincial government said the illegal structures and dangerous ruins were disregarded for over a year now.


OFF-LIMITS FOR NOW | Tourists enjoy the Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu, as shown in this 2018 photo. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Friday suspended activities, including swimming, at the falls due to dangerous debris in the tourist site’s vicinity. (Photo from the CEBU DAILY NEWS)

June 6, 2023

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Canyoneering and swimming activities at the Kawasan Falls in Barangay Matutinao, Badian town, in southern Cebu province were halted starting on June 2 due to dangerous ruins in the area.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order No. 14, also on June 2, to protect locals and tourists who visit the place to relax and enjoy. The suspension will be enforced until further notice.

“Any injury or mishap resulting from the gross neglect of the possible dangers that these illegal structures and dangerous ruins may cause to the public would definitely adversely affect the tourism industry of Cebu,” the governor’s EO read.

Badian, located 103.9 kilometers south of Cebu City, is known for its Kawasan Falls, one of the sites for canyoneering activities in the municipality that had drawn water sports enthusiasts from different parts of the country.

In an interview on Monday, Garcia said the provincial government would be taking over the administration of Kawasan Falls, which flows through Matutinao River in Badian and managed by the local government.

“That is a disaster waiting to happen. And I don’t want a black mark on Cebu’s tourism, particularly Kawasan Falls which is recognized [as] one of the most beautiful falls in the world. So rather than allow that disaster to happen, we might as well take that preventive action,” she said.

Hazardous, life-threatening

Garcia noted that the debris from structures destroyed by Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai) in December 2021 had not been cleared.

Garcia said there should also be a review of the rates since some of the tourists do not want to pay P1,500 each for the entire canyoneering activity.

“I hope that when we finally [re]open [Kawasan Falls], people will say wow, especially Cebuanos, they will be very proud to be Cebuanos because we have such a jewel in this island,” she said.

Last February, personnel from the Badian local government and the police conducted a joint ocular inspection showing the presence of hazardous metallic spikes and illegal structures within the defined easement zones of the falls.

Further inspection done by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office at a dam of the well-visited canyoneering trails of the Kawasan Falls also revealed a “life-threatening” passage of water that needs to be repaired or removed.

The provincial government said these illegal structures and dangerous ruins were just disregarded for over a year now.

“There is a need to abate the discovered illegal structures and dangerous ruins within the defined easement zones of Kawasan Falls to ensure the safety of the public,” Garcia’s order stated.

“The provincial governor is also empowered to adopt adequate measures to safeguard and conserve land, marine, forest, and other resources of the province, in coordination with the mayors of the component cities and municipalities,” it added.

Garcia directed the local police to strictly monitor the implementation of her order.

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