2 senators hail ‘miracle’ of Boracay cleanup, if true
Two senators could not believe the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) claim that it was able to clear Boracay Island of three years’ worth of garbage in just over 20 days.
“It’s miraculous, magical to say the least but admirable if true,” said committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda at a hearing of the DENR’s P27.12-billion budget for next year.
The DENR is asking Congress to approve P1.25 billion for clean water, air and solid waste management programs.
DENR officials reported to the Senate committee on finance they were able to clear the garbage in accordance with Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
Legarda was incredulous and asked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu if the agency and the local government complied with RA 9003 in disposing of three years’ worth of garbage.
“What went into the landfill were just the residual waste? But all the recyclable waste you were able to separate and put in the materials recovery facility in Boracay?” she asked.
Ariel Gloria, Environmental Management Bureau regional director for Western Visayas, explained the garbage had already been segregated but piled up because of the lack of equuipment.
But Gloria said local government officials provided the equipment needed to clear the trash.
“It’s the concerted effort of all local governments. The provincial governor and the mayor were instrumental in addressing the problem. They supported us with the logistics requirements, the dump trucks and personnel needed,” Gloria said.
But Sen. Cynthia Villar was not convinced and asked Legarda to arrange an inspection of the island.
“We have done recycling of waste in [Las Piñas] and I doubt that they can do it in 23 days. I doubt it. I have to see it to believe it,” Villar said.
Legarda also asked agency officials to update the committee on the 12 restaurants, hotels and resorts on the island that were found to be illegally using storm drain canals to discharge wastewater into the sea.
Gloria said the pipes from the establishments leading to the storm drain canals had already been plugged.
Legarda said Boracay had only three barangays, which made waste management doable.
She also asked the agency to do it in Puerto Galera and other heavily populated tourist havens “assuming what you did in the implementation of Republic Act 9003 [in Boracay] was accurate and correct.”