MANILA, Philippines — Establishments that go on polluting top tourist destination Boracay Island will face legal charges before the government’s new Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB).
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu made sure this will be done after ordering over 100 Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel to identify the sources of untreated discharges that pollute the once pristine island.
“PAB will decide closure and imposition of penalties on the errant establishments,” Cimatu said.
Citing DENR’s initial findings, Cimatu said 716 of Boracay’s 834 wastewater-discharging establishments don’t have discharge permits.
Such establishments without permits are presumed to be illegally discharging their wastewater into the sea, he said.
The DENR also reported already serving 51 notices of violation to establishments found polluting Boracay. Such establishments must address respective environmental violations within the specified period or face corresponding DENR charges if they fail to do so, the PAB said.
The PAB has assumed the functions of the defunct National Pollution Control Commission as to adjudication of pollution cases.
The move to file charges is in line with DENR’s six-month mission to clean up Boracay Island and save the world-famous tourist spot from further environmental degradation.
Fueling Boracay environment’s degradation over the years were runaway development, the influx of people beyond the island’s carrying capacity, poor implementation of environmental regulations and encroachment of structures, Cimatu said.
“Boracay’s original pristine condition has deteriorated,” he noted.
Cimatu earlier gave concerned establishments two months to either connect to Boracay Island Water Company’s sewage treatment plant or install their own wastewater treatment facilities, so these businesses would stop directly releasing untreated discharges into the environment.
According to Cimatu, 12 teams of DENR staff have been deployed to Boracay to inspect the island’s establishments.
“They’ll conduct a thorough sweep of establishments in Boracay to inspect these and determine any illegal discharge of untreated wastewater into the sea, encroachment into public/forestlands and wetlands, and illegal constructions within easement areas,” he said.
The DENR said an estimated 17.5 million liters of wastewater is generated daily in Boracay.
Earlier, Cimatu called on Aklan province’s Malay municipality to enforce environmental regulations.
The local government units (LGUs) share with DENR the responsibility of protecting and conserving the environment.
“Malay LGU has direct jurisdiction and supervision over Boracay. It’s the primary government unit responsible for ensuring that all laws, environmental or otherwise, are executed and followed there,” Cimatu added.-Catherine Teves/PNA
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