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El Nido bans cooked to order food services in island-hopping

The local government of El Nido, Palawan has temporarily banned "paluto" or cooked to order services for tourists during island-hopping activities following cases of visitors getting ill from gastroenteritis.

According to Cedric Castillo's report on "24 Oras," since January this year, over 200 tourists in the island have fallen ill to diarrhea or acute gastroenteritis.

In a meeting between the local government and travels tours and boat operators, the agencies acknowledged that the lack of potable water in the province remains a challenge.

Despite continuous food safety training, there were sometimes lapses in the food preparation of some travel operators.  Some also cook on the boats, which lack clean and safe facilities for cooking, as pointed out by the Department of Health (DOH) regional office.

Meanwhile, with the "paluto" prohibition, it is still unclear where and how the tourists will temporarily get their food.

The LGU is set to release a set of rules based on its agreement with the tour operators and motor boat association.

It also said it is strictly monitoring water refilling stations and water system providers, implementing a bulk water system, and adding pumping stations to improve the water and sanitation system of the area.

The Department of Tourism (DOT), meanwhile, said it is willing to talk to the LGU on the livelihood of those who depend on the area's tourism.

"Our tourism destinations fall within the territorial jurisdiction of our LGUs. From our end, we would love to collaborate with the LGU in terms of trying to ensure that while we manage the water quality, we are also able to manage activities that are not necessarily harmful to the environment or would unduly deprive livelihood to our local vendors," DOT secretary Christina Frasco said.—Sherylin Untalan/LDF, GMA Integrated News