As cleanup drive begins in the world-famous White Beach, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu closed down 51 commercial establishments in the area for failing to comply with environmental regulations.
“[I] ordered immediate closure all those establishments in Boracay to be given notice of violation. When you issue a notice of violation, ang susunod diyan (what follows) is there will be technical conference with DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” Cimatu was quoted as saying in an ABS-CBN News report.
“Pina-close ko na ‘yung 51. Matapos na itong proseso within a week (I have ordered the closure of the 51 establishments. This process will be done within a week),” he added.
The order was issued after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to close the popular tourist destination, calling it a “cesspool,” if the island’s environmental woes will not be addressed in six months.
The Environment Secretary said those commercial establishments that were ordered shut down did not comply with Clean Water Act, the Ecological Waste Management Act, and land use regulations.
“The first violation is the clean water act… You are not supposed to release your wastewater to the sea, and establishments there are not compliant. Dinederetso na nila sa (They send it straight to the) canal up to the beach of Boracay,” Cimatu said.
He stressed that some of the establishments occupied the “timberland” or forestland of the island and violated waste management regulations.
“The government proclaims…give the timberland, the trees [space] to grow. Pero in-occupy ng mga establishments dun, gumawa na sila ng building. Nagpunta na din ‘yung mga illegal settlers (But the establishments put up buildings there. And that drew illegal settlers),” he said.
Following the President’s directive, the Environment Secretary also gave the local government a six-month deadline to address environment woes in Boracay.
“I will give you 6 months to clean up Boracay. LGU [local government unit] ang may responsibilidad dito. Sila ‘yung mga nagma-manage sa cleanliness (The LGU is responsible for this. They are the ones who manage cleanliness).”
On Wednesday, Cimatu ordered the immediate shut down of 300 business establishments in the island for violating environmental laws.
The erring buildings were given two months to either connect to the sewage treatment plant of Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC) or install their own wastewater treatment facilities. Cimatu said these establishments will face closure if they would fail to conform to environmental provisions of the law.
Cimatu vowed to finish addressing the problems within the prescribed period set by Duterte.
“Kakayanin ko talaga kasi katulad ng mga estudyante na binigyan sila ng oras na mag-aral sa (I can do it just like how students are given time to study in) school, ‘finish or not finish pass your paper. Parang ganun lang sa akin yun (It is the same with me). I have to do my best to complete it within 6 months,” he said.