MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suspended all environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) issued to businesses in tourist hotspot Boracay, adding that they would also have to stop operations in the meantime.
In a memorandum issued on Wednesday, July 18, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said all ECCs would be assessed.
“All ECCs issued in Boracay Island are hereby suspended and the same shall be thoroughly reviewed in terms of their compliance [with] current local and national laws, rules, and regulations,” he said.
Cimatu added that the results of the DENR’s land ownership mapping and carrying capacity study would be taken into consideration when ECCs are reissued. (IN PHOTOS: Businesses ‘dead’ in Boracay)
Cimatu also said that a committee composed of representatives from the DENR, Environmental Management Bureau, and Mines and Geosciences Bureau will be created to review establishments’ compliance.
“[The committee will] present [a] report to the undersigned (Cimatu) for either lifting of the suspension or cancellation of the [ECC],” the memorandum reads.
Under Proclamation Decree 1685, which was amended by DENR Administrative Order 21 in 1992, projects or businesses need to apply for ECCs to ensure that they would not bring “unacceptable environmental impact.”
Smaller businesses that would have no negative effects on the environment are issued certificates of non-coverage (CNCs).
In a text message to Rappler, Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said all establishments in Boracay would have to stop operations “until the suspension has been lifted” or until they are able to get new ECCs, if their existing ones are eventually canceled.
Richard Fabila, DENR focal person for Boracay, said in a phone interview that the memorandum would cover all establishments, even those with CNCs.
“All establishments in the island – not only those along the front beach – are covered under the memorandum, as well as those with CNCs,” Fabila said in Filipino.
President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the 6-month closure of the popular tourist destination, calling it a “cesspool” because of its environmental problems. Boracay has been closed to tourists since April 26.
Nearly 3 months into the closure, the DENR reported “slow” demolition of illegal structures in the island. – Rappler.com