Boracay mess shows system in permit issuance lacking: DENR official

MANILA -- The issuance of government permits nationwide must be systematized to prevent the ill-effects of unabated development and environmental ruin, an environment official has said.

"We must fix policy gaps to ensure permitting systems of LGUs (local government units) and national government are synchronized," said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Analiza Teh.

The environmental mess in top tourist destination, Boracay Island, highlights the need for such action, Teh said.

Encroachment in Boracay's wetlands, forest land, and easements may indicate low awareness that building structures on these areas are not allowed, she said.

Local authorities must let businesses getting their environmental permits know this before they issue any permit, she added.

Aside from encroachment, the DENR said water pollution and loss of habitats are among the environmental problems hounding Boracay Island amid population growth, increasing economic activities, and unabated

development.

The government closed Boracay for six months this year beginning April 26 to hasten the cleanup and rehabilitation work in this island.

The work aims at saving Boracay from further environmental degradation.

Improving water quality is among the ongoing rehabilitation's emerging gains, the DENR noted.

"We want to replicate, in other areas, our experience in Boracay," said Teh.

She cited Panglao Island, El Nido, Siargao, and Puerto Galera as among possible areas.

The DENR has already ordered these localities to comply with environmental regulations.

According to the department, the task force for cleaning up and rehabilitating Boracay Island is already preparing the guidelines for the target reopening on Oct. 26, six months after the government closed the area.

Teh said before reopening Boracay, however, authorities concerned will first test sewerage systems on the island.

Such testing aims at ensuring the lines have no leaks and will operate properly to help prevent further water pollution in Boracay, she said.

The DENR won't insist on Boracay's reopening this October if such systems need fixing, Teh stressed.

Earlier, the DENR said Boracay would be reopened as scheduled or even earlier if stakeholders cooperate in cleaning up and rehabilitating the island. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency