Should DENR-6 officials also be liable for Boracay mess?

Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan

The regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas said they are open to an investigation in connection with environmental problems hounding Boracay Island.

DENR Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Rodolfo Garcia recently called for the investigation to determine the possible liabilities of DENR-6 officials.

“We welcome the move of the higher management to exact full accountability from the erring officials that contributed to the Boracay mess,” DENR-6 Regional Director Jim Sampulna said in a statement.

“Indeed, heads must roll and let the axe fall where it should fall,” he added.

Sampulna said he was in favor of naming officials who are responsible for the degradation of Boracay.

He noted that the DENR has two line bureaus, which include the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

Each bureau, according to Sampulna, “plays particular roles which are distinct from one another and they have their own regional directors who oversee the implementation of their mandates.”

The MGB implements the Philippine Mining Act (R.A. 7942), distributes geohazard maps, and educates communities on how to use it. The bureau also trains local government units (LGUs) how to use the geohazard maps especially in case of flooding, landslides and storms.

The EMB, on the other hand, issues the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) that is required of establishments that falls within the category of the Environmentally Critical Projects.

It also implements the following environmental laws: 1. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Law (P.D. 1586); 2. Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste Management Act (R.A. 6969); 3. Clean Air Act (R.A. 8749); 4. Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (R.A. 9003); 5. Clean Water Act (R.A. 9275); 6. Environmental Awareness and Education Act (R.A. 9512).

The DENR-6 is on its third week in implementing the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte to clean up Boracay.

Duterte gave the DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) six months to fix the world-famous island.

“The Distribution of 842 Show Cause Orders to illegal forest occupants were already done while Notice of Violations to establishments that violated provisions of the Clean Water Act (expired or no discharge permits), the Clean Air Act (no permit to operate) and Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (no Environmental Compliance Certificate) is still ongoing. As of March 8, 352 NOVs had been issued by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB),” the DENR-6 said.IMT