‘We’ll make Boracay a paradise again’

Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan (Photo by DENR-6)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it is exhausting all efforts to address environmental woes on Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, in a press release, said they will make the world-famous island “a paradise again” within six months.

The agency deployed a “mission team” to “rehabilitate and restore” Boracay, which is known for its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters.

The team is composed of 50 personnel from six regional offices of the DENR.

The agency has divided Boracay into six areas where each of the six regions will be assigned an area to work on.

“We will be using all government assets and personnel to do this job,” Cimatu said.

On Feb. 12, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DENR to fix the island within six months.

“This is really a marching order from the President and I must tell you now that we should not fail. I say again, we should not fail the President and our people,” Cimatu said.

Last week, the DENR issued notices of violation to 37 business establishments found to have violated some conditions in their environmental compliance certificates, specifically in connecting to the sewage treatment plant or installation of their own wastewater treatment facilities.

These establishments, according to the agency, failed to renew their discharge permits.

“The reason why there is flooding in the island is because some business establishments connect to the drainage canal intended for rain water. It is much cheaper than connecting to the sewerage system but that is a clear violation of the Clean Water Act,” said DENR-6 Regional Director Jim O. Sampulna.

Meanwhile, the DENR-6 signed 842 Show Cause Orders for the illegal forest occupants residing on the timberland areas.

“These forests – upland and mangrove – belong to the state. It is not supposed to be inhabited,” Sampulna said.

The DENR will also strictly impose the 25+5 meter easement between the shore and establishments in the beachfront of the island.

“They are not allowed to have their establishments within the 30 meters easement from the highest tide of ocean water,” Sampulna said.

“Although the President said he will shut down Boracay if we could not fix the problems in six months, he might change his mind when he sees that the people here are working hard to really manage and protect the island,” he added.

Duterte described Boracay as a “cesspool.”

“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? Shit.Because everything that goes out on the island…it’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster coming,” he said. IMT