March 4 2018 – Over 200 cases of environmental violations have been filed by the DENR (Department of Natural Resources) against Resort and Hotel owners in the world famous vacation spot of Boracay Island, Philippines.
It was found that about 190 plus establishments were dumping untreated sewage directly into the sea causing massive pollution along the shorelines. The water treatment facilities in Manoc-Manoc and Balabag were found to have exceeded their capacities promting DENR Secretary Cimatu to order their rehabilitation.
Violations include among others: violation of the Philippine Clean Water Act, violation of the Philippine Clean Air Act and operation of establishments without any environmental compliance certificate.
Over 578 establishments on and near shore were inspected by the DENR with most violations being given to on-shore resorts and establishments.
According to DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III, some areas of the island will be closed to tourist as structures would need to be demolished in order to fix the sewage problem. DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano stated that Boracay cannot be rehabilitated under normal circumstances. One of the options is to totally close down the island to tourists for 60 days.
Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo proposed the creation of the Boracay Development Authority as a long term solution to the island’s incessant problems and violations of the environmental laws. The authority to manage Boracay was given to the Local Government Unit in 1991 and this is the result she added. Last Monday, the Department of Tourism (DOT) stopped the processing of new and expiring accreditation certificates of establishments in the island which were not complying with environmental laws.
Senator Cynthia Villar has opposed the total closure of the island and instead told the DENR and LGU to close down the erring and violating establishments. “Close only those that are violating laws, those operating without ECC’s, those that are not compliant.”
The closure of the island would be a drastic solution to years long problem of pollution, over crowding and environmental problems. But would have a big effect on the Labor situation in the Region. Department of Labor Western Visayas Director said that 17,000 workers in Boracay would be affected with a total closure. “The suggested closure will increase the unemployment in the region and will have an impact on related businesses that supply and provide services for the island. It’s a domino effect.”
President Duterte had issued an order to “SHUT THEM DOWN” to the DENR referring to those that have been violating the environmental laws. Upon hearing this, some resorts owners voluntarily ceased operations to comply with the DENR. Crisostom Aquino whose West Cove Resort had been in the media for several years for building structures on natural rock formations was surprised by the speed of the demolition team brought by former AFP General and now DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu who ordered the immediate demolition on site of the violating structures. Aquino has been using the courts to delay the demolition of the structures since 2014.
West Cove stands on leased government land under a 25 year Forest Land use Agreement for Tourism which was cancelled in September 12, of 2014 for violating the agreement. West Cove built structures outside of the allowed area and built them on natural formations.
Cimatu warned that if the establishments do not comply with the laws, they will be closed down. “We have to strictly enforce environmental laws in order to protect the country’s tourism sites so that the future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.”
Compliant resorts and hotel owners have appealed against the total closure of the island as it will affect the economy of the Province.
This report has been verified by NewsmePh