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NONCOMPLIANCE WITH CLEAN WATER ACT

Boracay operators ask DENR to update list of erring businesses

ILOILO CITY — Business operators on Boracay Island are appealing to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ensure that its list of establishments allegedly violating environmental laws is validated and updated before it is made public.

“We have not seen the list but several establishments that were reportedly on the list are already compliant. One of those is not operating anymore,” Nenette Aguirre-Graf, president of Boracay Foundation Inc., told the Inquirer.

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Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones, DENR spokesperson, said that out of the 51 establishments issued notices of violation for noncompliance with or violation of the Clean Water Act’s provisions, 14 were found to be compliant.

Most of the violations involve illegal connections to the drainage system or not being connected to the island’s sewerage system.

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The DENR is targeting establishments that illegally dump sewage water into the drainage system, which is intended only for rainwater.

Graf said that while business owners had declared their support for the crackdown on violators of environmental laws and regulations on the island, the issuance of the notices of violation should be based on verified information so as not to damage the image of compliant establishments.

Leones assured the public that due process would be followed and that the alleged violators would be given an opportunity to respond and correct any violation or noncompliance.

“There will be no immediate closure of any establishment,” he told the Inquirer.

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a six-month deadline for government agencies, local government units and business operators to address Boracay’s environmental problems.

Mr. Duterte has called the popular tourist destination a “cesspool” and “full of shit” and threatened to close down the 1,032-hectare island.

Aside from those violating the Clean Air Act, the DENR is also issuing show-cause orders to 842 establishments and other structures in areas classified as timberland.

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The structures are on about 400 hectares of timberland and are not covered by titles issued by a court or by special land use permits and forest land use agreement for tourism (FLAgT) purposes.

A FLAgT allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years. It is renewable for another 25 years and covers forest lands to be used for bathing, camp sites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.

Presidential Proclamation No. 1064, issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 22, 2006, categorized 629 hectares, or 61 percent of the island as alienable and disposable, and the rest as forest land and protected areas.

Only about a third of the island (292 hectares), belonging to the heirs of Ciriaco Tirol, are titled, according to the DENR.

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TAGS: BFI, Boracay businesses, Boracay cleanup, Boracay Foundation Inc., Clean Water Act
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