MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said business establishments releasing untreated wastewater and sewage into the waters around Boracay island only have two months to “shape up,” or else they will face closure.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said these establishments have two months to either connect to the sewage treatment plant of Boracay Island Water Company, or install their own wastewater treatment facilities.
“The DENR is giving them two months to comply with the law. Otherwise, we will close them,” he said in a statement on Tuesday, February 13.
While around 50% to 60% of all establishments in Boracay are compliant with the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, Cimatu noted that “all the rest direct their pipes to the canals which drain to the sea.”
DENR will soon issue a notice of violation to these erring establishments, after which they will be given 3 to 5 days to respond, or else, “we will cut their water connections.”
Cimatu himself was only given 6 months by President Rodrigo Duterte to address the environmental woes of Boracay.
Calling the popular Philippine beach a “cesspool,” Duterte threatened to close down Boracay if nothing happens after 6 months.
He also warned that he would file complaints against local government officials in Boracay for “serious neglect of duty.”
Duterte, in the last Cabinet meeting, approved “in principle” an executive order creating a task force to solve the problems besetting Boracay.
Aside from the establishments with sewage problems, Cimatu said his department will also go after establishments built within areas classified as forestlands.
“Forestlands are no-build zones. What they have done is against the law,” Cimatu said, citing the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
The environment secretary said he had already issued a directive that no new environmental compliance certificate will be issued in Boracay to prevent the construction of new buildings in the island.
“For me, the law is the law. This is a different battle but this is our chance to rehabilitate Boracay,” Cimatu said. – Rappler.com