In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to address environmental woes in Boracay within six months, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu on Tuesday ordered the immediate shut down of 300 business establishments in the island for not complying with environmental laws.
“This morning, I ordered the regional director of Region 6 — the immediate issuance of notice of violations and closure of all Boracay establishments which violated the Clean Water Act and failed to connect — waste water to the sewage system,” Cimatu was quoted as saying in a GMA News report.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said that business establishments may appeal the order and they will be given a deadline to fix their violations. Leones added that the Pollution and Adjudication Board will issue a cease and desist order if they fail to solve their shortcomings.
Cimatu gave the commercial buildings two months to conform to environmental provisions of the law as the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) is committed to immediately finish the assessments of such establishment that may be releasing untreated sewage causing pollution into the waters of the world-famous beach.
In a separate speech during the launch of the Green Film Festival in Quezon City, the Environment Secretary said they will continue doing the process to solve the issue in Boracay, including the wastewater.
“Ayoko na hindi matupad na utos ni Presidente. Inutos ko na ito sa regional director so expect na umpisa na itong ating campaign (I don’t want the President’s order not to be fulfilled. I ordered the regional director so expect that this will be the start of our campaign). I’m cleaning the environmental problem of Boracay starting with the sewage system,” he said.
Cimatu also said that he already instructed his department’s undersecretaries to have a discussion with the Ayala Group who are the concessionaire of the wastewater system in the island.
He 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.
On Friday, 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.
“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” Duterte said during the Manila Times’ Business Forum in Davao City.
The Chief Executive then accused local governments in the popular White Beach of being responsible for pollution in the area, saying that he would file complaints against them for “serious neglect of duty” as they were not able to maintain a clean environment.
The President also said that local government officials are being too “zealous” in approving construction of various commercial establishments on the island without proper sewerage system.
“You allowed buildings to be constructed without the proper sewerage….You created a disaster there,” Duterte stressed.
The Chief Executive gave an ultimatum to the local executives and the DENR.
“Either they clean it up or I will close it permanently,” he warned.