Crackdown in Boracay: Cimatu surprised to see ‘so many violators’
BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Thursday inspected establishments with alleged violations of environmental laws and regulations here as he launched a national task force that would crack down on violators within the six months deadline of President Duterte.
Cimatu inspected resorts along the beach for compliance with easement rules and those built over wetlands.
“I was surprised that there were so many violators but we will try our best to complete the mission in that prescribed time,” Cimatu told the INQUIRER after the inspection.
He said structures inside forest lands will be also removed if they cannot avail of a Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT).
A FLAgT allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years renewable for another 25 years. The agreement covers forest lands to be used for bathing, camp sites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.
“If they will not apply for a FLAgT and insist on being illegal, they might be removed,” Cimatu said.
In his speech before more than 100 DENR personnel before going to Boracay, Cimatu, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, rallied the agency’s personnel to complete their tasks within six months.
“We can do it,” Cimatu told the DENR personnel referring to the President’s deadline.
The President has threatened to close down the island if the perennial problems are not resolved after six months.
“We will have those (inside the 30 meters from the shoreline easement) demolished,” Cimatu told the DENR personnel from 14 regions.
He urged the personnel to also inspect and serve notices of violation and show cause orders on structures built on wet lands, those violating road easement rules and establishments illegally discharging waste water.
“Wetlands should remain as wetlands,” Cimatu said as he blamed the worsening flooding on the island to the covering up of wetlands.
He urged the DENR personnel to “neutralize” the “enemy,” referring to the violations.
Cimatu was non-committal on proposals to place the island under a state of emergency to hasten the crackdown on violators.
He said the DENR will work within the six months deadline in whatever scenario.
The proposals coming from the Departments of Interior and Local Government and Tourism will still be discussed, according to Cimatu.
About 10 personnel from each region will be assigned to Boracay on a 15-day rotation to augment the DENR’s Western Visayas office.
Cimatu will continue his inspection of structures in forest lands on Friday.
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