REPASO 2018: The Boracay story: Years of ‘cesspool’ to a paradise in months

Marje Pelayo   •   December 31, 2018   •   3521

 

President Rodrigo Duterte on April 26, 2018 ordered a six-month closure of Boracay Island after reports of overpopulation, pollution and corruption turned the country’s top tourist destination into a ‘cesspool’.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool. It is destroying the environment of the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster,” the President said.

Environment investigators discovered poor sewage system with pipelines discharging wastewater directly to the sea.

What happened next to Boracay was a total overhaul – establishments within the 20-meter easement zone were demolished; drainages were replaced and repaired; roads were constructed and widened.

Thousands of workers and residents temporarily lost their sources of income as commercial establishments were barred from operating.

The government, meanwhile, provided alternative jobs for residents under the cash for work program.

While rehabilitation was ongoing, it was discovered that a portion of a mountain in the island was flattened to give way for the construction of a casino resort

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched an investigation.

But the local government maintained there was never been a plan to construct a casino in the island.

Early this year, Boracay made world headlines as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered its shutdown after declaring it a “cesspool” for years of mismanagement, over tourism, abuse, massive pollution and corruption.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool. It is destroying the environment of the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster,” the President said.

Government investigators found that most commercial structures had been operating without permits and violating environmental laws among others.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) deep penetrating radar revealed that 43 sites in the entire white beach area of Boracay Island were planted with illegal sewers.

More than 2,000 businesses and homes were illegally connected to the island’s sewage system, all pumping their waste water directly into the sea.

Pollution level at the beach was unprecedented as coliform contamination in Boracay waters already exceeded environmental standards for recreational water.

Seventeen (17) local officials of Aklan province were charged with graft, conduct unbecoming of public officials, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the services over irregularities in managing Boracay Island.

An inter-agency task force was created to manage the six-month rehabilitation works in the island starting off with the construction of a new sewerage and drainage system, communication lines and the main road.

After six months of closure and with environment laws and building codes now being enforced, only 68 hotels and resort lodgings are noted compliant, ready to accept bookings.

After days of dry run, the paradise Island of the Philippines is set to officially reopen its gates to tourists but…under stricter compliance guidelines.

Tourist arrivals have been limited to 6,400 each day.

The ‘no booking, no entry’ policy is strictly being imposed.

No smoking and drinking is allowed at the beach front.

No party events by the beach.

No loitering.

The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force hopes the improvements in Boracay will become a template for other rehabilitation works in various tourist spots in the country.

Today, rehabilitation works are still ongoing in Boracay.

The government aims at completing the rehabilitation in 2020. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)

 

DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

Filipino residents cross a hanging bridge along the polluted water of Pasig river in Manila, Philippines, 31 May 2018 (issued on 04 June 2018). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct testing of water samples from all rivers across the country amid the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus.

The test is to determine the quality of and coliform content in the country’s bodies of water after water samples from the sewerage system in Tondo, Manila and Davao city tested positive of poliovirus.

According to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered all its regional offices to submit the results as soon as possible.

“Hahanapin namin ang mga pipes na nagtatapon sa mga rivers para masiguro natin na hindi na madagdagan pa ang polusyon ng river (We will trace the pipes that discharge directly into the rivers to make sure that pollution level in our rivers will not escalate),” Antiporda said. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Deer head seized at Manila Port, handed over to DENR

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) turned over on Tuesday (September 24) to the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) a piece of deer head smuggled into the Philippines without the necessary import permit.

The BOC said the deer head was discovered inside a parcel declared as household goods and personal effects that arrived at the Manila International Container Port on July 12, 2019 from Guam.

The subject good was seized for violation of Sections 11 and 27 of Republic Act No. 9147 otherwise known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and Section 117 in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

BI nabs overstaying Indian national working as chef in Boracay

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2019

​​MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported the arrest on September 4 of an Indian national employed as a chef without a permit and visa in the tourist island of Boracay.

Accoridng to BI, the alien was identified as Vincent Joseph Mondal, 42, an allegedly overstaying and undocumented foreign worker.

Intelligence Division Acting Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr said Mondal was arrested while at work at Namaster Restaurant located beside the Boracay public market where he had been working as chief cook.

“He was unable to present his passport or any travel document when our agents confronted him to verify his immigration status,” Manahan said.

The BI discovered that Mondal was an illegal entrant as he entered the country through the backdoor and did not undergo inspection by immigration authorities.

​​It was also determined that Mondal had been banned from entering the country and placed on the immigration blacklist over a similar case of overstaying and failure to pay the assessed fines and penalties some time in 2013.

​​Mondal is now detained at the BI detention center while summary deportation proceedings are being undertaken.

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