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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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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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DILG to summon 1k village execs defying orders on Manila Bay rehab

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Manila Bay

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will summon village chiefs who are not complying with orders in relation with the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation.

DILG Undersecretary for barangay operations, Martin Diño, said at a press briefing on Thursday that they are set to issue a show cause order against 1,000 barangays along the Manila Bay Watershed Area for failing to follow orders to strictly enforce environmental laws in their respective areas.

Diño said cases will be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman if these village executives fail to justify their non-compliance with the order.

The DILG official also reiterated that the dismissal of Malay, Aklan Mayor Cicero Cawaling should serve as a warning to all local officials.

Cawaling was dismissed from public office after he was found guilty of gross neglect of duty and other offenses in relation with Boracay island’s environmental degradation.

“’Yung mga mayor sa Metro Manila at yung 179 mayors that cover Manila Bay, hindi kayo exempted dito. Baka kayo na ang kasunod,” Diño warned.

The official said 179 local government units and 5,714 barangays have been ordered to conduct weekly clean-up drives in Manila Bay and Laguna Lake in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte through Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09.

READ: PH gov’t tells metro LGUs: Impose strict guidelines on estero clean-up

In a recent statement, the DILG called on local officials anew to work closely with concerned government agencies in protecting the environment in Boracay, Manila Bay watershed and other critical areas in the country. (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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DENR releases endangered sea turtles in Boracay to celebrate Ocean’s Month

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

The Department of Environment and Naturan Resources (DENR) has released three endangered hawksbill turtles in Boracay in celebration of Ocean’s Month.

On Wednesday morning (May 1) the department released the hawksbill turtles in the ocean to live normally in their natural habitat.

Director of DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Dr. Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez said they prefer them to live in their natural habitat and reproduce rather than live in an enclosed aquarium.

“So we want them to grow in their natural habitat. Hindi iyong nasa loob lang ng isang aquarium or nasa isang palanggana (Not live inside an aquarium or in a basin). And of course, that’s part of conservation. We want them to swim freely around, hopefully find their mate, hopefully reproduce,” she said.

The DENR assured that the turtles are healthy and in good condition to survive in the ocean. They also placed tags on the turtles to be able to carefully monitor them.

They also advise the public to leave the turtles alone in case they see the turtles swimming in the ocean.

“Huwag silang hulihin. Huwag silang kunin. Huwag silang hawakan. Huwag nang lapitan. Just let them be, (Don’t catch them. Don’t poach them or touch them. Just let them be)” she said.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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