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

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, 31 December 2018 07:10 PM


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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15 factories in Bulacan shut down for pumping chemical waste to Manila Bay

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 29 January 2019 12:57 PM

Photo courtesy of DENR-Region 3

BULACAN, Philippines – There is no stopping the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from its crackdown of facilities that pollute Manila Bay.

In Bulacan, the agency’s regional office ordered the closure of 15 factories in the Municipalities of Marilao and Meycauayan for pumping waste water directly to river estuaries that link to Manila Bay.

In a report released by DENR on Friday (January 25), the agency issued ‘cease and desist’ order to 12 leather and tannery firms in Meycauayan and three in Marilao.

On Monday (January 28), the DENR cemented the drainage canal of five leather factories to prevent wastewater from draining to the rivers of Marilao and Meycauayan.

“Ang mga operations na ganito,na walang waste water treatment facility, walang permit, malaki ang contribution nila sa pollution,” explained Emerlyn Claudio, the DENR Region 3 Director.

Claudio accused the said establishments to have violated the Clean Water Act for not having their respective water treatment facility and environmental compliance certificate.

The environment official also noted that the said factories are discharging dark and chemically contaminated wastewater that flows directly to Manila Bay.

Aside from damage to the environment, the factories’ operations also cause inconvenience to the residents nearby.

“Ito nga tayo masakit na sa dibdib. Nakakasulasok na ang amoy. Kung yung mga nasa paligid, lalo na yung may exposure, I think this is one of the reasons why may complaint dati. Pero nag-stop sila and then nag resurface naman ang operation nila,” explained Claudio.

Local officials vowed to monitor closely the concerned companies after the shutdown.

“Mabaho na may kulay. May sulfite iyan ay nakakarating sa aming barangay. Imo-monitor na namin iyan araw-araw para ma-check kung mayroong tumatapon na tubig na marurumi,” said Chirs Polo Delos Santos, an official of Barangay Tugatog.

Meanwhile, the DENR warned closure against other companies if proven to have been violating environmental law particularly by disposing solid, water and chemical waste in aquatic environments such as Manila Bay. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nestor Torres)

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DENR suspends operation of pig, poultry farms around Laguna Lake

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 29 January 2019 11:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the suspension of all hog and poultry farms suspected of polluting Laguna Lake.

“Those piggeries and poultries that are polluting our rivers, their ECC will be suspended. Hindi canceled (but) suspended pending investigation,” clarified DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

“Ayaw nating magkaroon ng chaos when it comes sa supply ng manok at baboy but we need to take care of our environment. These businessmen should shape up or else they will be shut down,” he added.

The City Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) supports the decision of the DENR.

“Ang kalinisan (ay) shared responsibility. Hindi lang nasa gobyerno o nasa pamahalaan kundi lahat tayo dapat maglinis ng ating kapaligiran dahil tayo rin apektado. So siguro pagtulung-tulongan natin mahalin at protektahan iyon. Ating kapaligiran dahil tayo rin ang magsa-suffer nito pag nasira ng tuluyan. So, tulong-tulong sa paglilinis,” said Marilou Balba, head of San Pedro City CENRO.

For a hog raiser like Mario Corpuz, having a proper animal waste disposal facility is a must for businesses like his.

He has been raising pigs for over three decades now in his farm in Barangay Cuyab in the municipality of San Pedro in Laguna.

His pig farm is about 250 meters away from Laguna Lake but he assures that his business does not cause pollution to the Lake because he has his own facility that deposits and treats animal discharges from his farm.

“Dapat talaga may sariling deposito. Katulad noong sa akin, may depositong waste ng baboy hindi naman natakbo sa lawa. Nakikita nyo naman (ang) layo pa ng lawa sa akin,” Corpus argued.

Even so, Corpuz’ farm is not exempted from DENR’s suspension order.

The DENR’s investigation is now rolling off in all piggeries and poultry farms near and around Laguna Lake to check for violations of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2002. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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Hospital waste contractor faces suspension over floating medical trash

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 16 January 2019 05:24 PM

Authorities inspect the bags of medical waste found floating in the waters of Mactan Channel

CEBU, Philippines – Residents near Mactan Channel are worried about the recent discovery of hospital wastes floating in the said body of water.

Authorities from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 7’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) immediately launched an investigation into the incident.

They found out that two waste treaters of two private hospitals in the city are violating environmental laws.

“Nakita namin na merong mga nagawang violation ng environmental care in terms of the handling, management and in terms of record nila,” explained William Cuñado, EMB-7 Director.

“We visited the site. Nakita namin na meron talagang something wrong in their management na hindi talaga na-implement properly ang ating palatuntunan,” he added.

This prompted the authorities to recommend the suspension of the treatment, storage and disposal registration of the Davao City Environmental Care, Inc. which serves as the waste treater of Chong Hua Hospital and UC Medical Center.

The TSD registration emphasizes that a waste treatment facility must be capable of proper treatment and safe disposal of hazardous waste from any establishment such as that of the hospital.

Meanwhile, after DENR’s technical conference, the waste treater as well as Chong Hua Hospital and UC Medical Center were all required to submit their respective explanations regarding the matter.

“Doon na natin ipinakita ang ating findings during sa investigation kung anong mga sections ang na-violate nila at ang possible na mga penalties nila,”  said Atty, Unalee Monares, the chief of the Legal Division EMB-7.

“Base sa ating investigation, nakita natin na there is something wrong sa handling nila sa kanilang wastes, documentation sa kanilang wastes,” she added.

The waste treater’s permit to transport was also suspended pending investigation.

Meanwhile, the DENR provided a list of accredited service providers to the two hospitals so they could get a new and compliant waste treater. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Gladys Toabi)

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