MANILA, February 24, 2018–In the middle of Boracay’s garbage and waste water crisis, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admits the indigenous peoples of Boracay Island in Panay have been on the losing end of many bargains with developers and business owners who have since profited from the island’s natural beauty.
“Some of them have been abused through leases and payments to which they agreed to without realizing the repercussions,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Relations Jonas Leones.
He said, however, that the indigenous peoples are part of the DENR’s development plan.
“The DENR will strengthen its reinforcement capabilities in cooperation with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples,” added Leones.
Criminal charges will be filed against owners of illegal structures in areas in Boracay classified as forestland, pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines. Illegal structures will be demolished, he said.
Structures violating the 30-meter easement from the shoreline will also be demolished.
“The compliance of the local government of Boracay to RA 9003 will also be evaluated. There are too many resorts and people in Boracay that the island has gone beyond its carrying capacity,” said Leones.
The DENR has been mobilizing its resources to address the environmental problems besetting Boracay.
“All bureaus and attached agencies of the DENR, including the Environmental Management Bureau and the Forest Management Bureau, will work together in addressing Boracay’s serious garbage and wastewater problems,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier threatened to close down Boracay if environmental issues remain unaddressed in six months’ time.
The agency has been laying down plans to avert a Boracay shutdown, according to Cimatu, who has been closely monitoring Boracay’s environmental issues even before the President’s directive came out.
The former Armed Forces chief had earlier ordered the local government of Malay, Aklan to stop the dumping of residual waste at the Materials Recovery Facility in Barangay Manoc-Manoc following complaints of foul odor from the residents.
The MRF has become an open dumpsite, which is prohibited under Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Establishments found directly discharging their untreated waste water into the water body will be penalized, issued cease and desist orders (CDO) or closed.
Leones emphasized that all establishments on the island are required to have waste treatment facilities. However, some directly discharge their wastes to the sea. “The DENR will address the poor sewage and drainage systems, garbage, and violations of environmental laws in Boracay.” (Eric Michael Santos/Luzon Times)