DENR’s Boracay crackdown to go on beyond closure period

MANILA The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will continue its campaign against environmental violations in Boracay Island, even after six-month closure period of Aklan province's top tourist destination this year.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu gave this assurance and urged all sectors to help clean up Boracay, envisioning this tourist gem as "a better, cleaner,

and safer destination Filipinos can be proud of".

"Our task to clean up and make Boracay a livable community and an enhanced tourism destination will be continuing even beyond the six-month closure period," Cimatu said in a statement he read in a briefing in Metro Manila on Friday.

He said the DENR would further guard against water pollution in Boracay by fast-tracking work on drainage and sewerage systems there, so the island's waters could meet international standards.

The DENR would continue promoting eco-friendly waste disposal technologies and provide solid waste management retraining for stakeholders concerned to help maintain cleanliness throughout the island, he continued.

Boracay's wetlands and forestland would be reclaimed and cleared of illegal structures, debris, and whatever else that must not be there, so these ecosystems could recover and flourish anew, he stressed.

"We'll continue to go after violators and will make sure establishments will take corrective measures in accordance with standards," he warned.

"We will establish the Boracay Island habitat in Barangay Yapak to serve as nesting ground for turtles. We will ensure that Puka Beach will really have Puka shells," he cited.

The DENR initiated such measures to help save Boracay Island from further environmental deterioration.

Among the identified causes of such deterioration is water pollution from untreated wastewater's direct discharge into the environment, since not all residences and establishments in Boracay are connected to treatment facilities and sewerage systems there.

Illegal construction of structures in wetlands and forestland had stripped Boracay of these ecosystems, which provide various ecological services like serving as biodiversity habitat and providing water, food, and raw materials, DENR noted.

Transportation problems hindering the delivery of Boracay waste for disposal is worsening the world-famous island's environmental problems, the agency added.

"Much needs to be done," said Cimatu, explaining why the DENR must sustain its campaign against environmental problems in Boracay.

The DENR, Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of Interior and Local

Government (DILG) comprise the team spearheading the government's inter-agency task force to rehabilitate Boracay.

While the DENR is attending to environmental activities, the DOT is focusing on tourism- and social impact-related concerns in the tourist spot.

The DILG, meanwhile, is the team's regulation enforcement arm.

Cimatu said the lead agencies in the Boracay rehabilitation efforts want to expand its task force to take care of the community's socio-economic needs while the place is closed to address its environmental woes.

Among the agencies expected to join the team are the labor department and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to help workers

who would be economically displaced when Boracay closes, he said.

Other agencies that might have to help out, Cimatu said, are the departments of social welfare and development, energy, transportation, public works and highways, and health.

The environment chief said after Boracay's many years of unbridled expansion and influx of mass tourism in the once pristine island, the government needs to restudy not only the master plan for Boracay but for the entire province of Aklan as a prime tourist destination.

MalacaAang had announced Boracay's six-month closure to the public would start on April 26. The closure is aimed at hastening the island's cleanup and rehabilitation.

But authorities tasked to lead the efforts said the closure could take less than six months if only everyone concerned would cooperate.(PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency