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

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018

 

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)

 

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DENR pushes for alternative mining

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019

Mining site

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) pushes for alternative mining in order to care for the country’s environment.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu encourages mining engineers to find ways to mine without harming the environment. Cimatu added that they are looking into surface mining as one of the alternatives.

“As long as you don’t destroy it, instead if you are able to get the mineral content then you resurface it at the same time make sure na ang mga water na dumadaan doon hindi mapupunta sa unless being treated muna, (make sure the water will be treated first)” he said.

Meanwhile, the environment secretary assured there are sufficient materials for the government’s Build Build Build Program.

Cimatu said the country has enough supply of cement, and aggregate materials including sand, stone, and steel bars.

“Sufficient naman iyan (That is sufficient) in fact the aggregates are doing well and we are allowing the quarrying in some rivers but will make sure that na hindi masisira ang river, (the rive will not be damaged)” he said.—(with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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Prioritize implementation of environmental laws—DENR to newly elected local officials

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) urges newly elected local officials to prioritize implementation of environmental laws.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu reminded the new leaders to prioritize full and strict implementation of environmental laws, particularly on solid waste management.

“The task force cannot do it alone. We need the full cooperation of LGUs,” Cimatu added.

Meanwhile, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns, Benny Antiporda, called on the local government units (LGU) to report any law violations.

“By doing so, these officials will send the right signal early on in their administration and that is, they do not tolerate any wrongdoing. We will go after both newly elected and outgoing local officials who violated environmental laws,” Antiporda said.

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Establishment owners in General Luna, Siargao Island to undergo environmental laws seminar—DENR

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019


The famous boardwalk in Cloud 9, General Luna, Siargao Islands, Philippines during sunrise. (Photo: Jupit Reyes/Creative Commons) 

Establishment owners in General Luna, Siargao Island will undergo environmental laws seminar after around 700 establishments had been found to have violated environmental laws, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

400 of these establishments don’t have Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) while around 300 establishments violated the 20-meter easement zone.

DENR Caraga Regional Executive Director Felix Alicer has admitted that they have lapses in the implementation of these laws.

He also said that the said buildings were constructed without considering the requirements for a building permit.

“I must admit na mayroon tayong kakulangan sa pag-implement ng batas in coordinating with the building officials. Kasi sa tingin namin na-issue itong mga (I must admit we have lapses in implementing the laws in coordinating with the building officials. Because we think, these building permits were issued) building permit in the construction without taking into the consideration that there is the requirements in the PD [Presidential decree] 1586,” he said.

There is no official announcement yet as to when and where will the seminar be conducted.

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