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Boracay crackdown costing DENR P9.5 million

/ 07:18 PM February 26, 2018
Workers tear concrete structures built on top of rock formations at the Boracay Westcove resort (By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.)

Workers tear concrete structures built on top of rock formations at the Boracay Westcove resort (By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.)

BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN — Running after violators of environmental laws and regulations in Boracay is costing an initial P9.5 million in public funds from the Department of Environment Natural Resources (DENR) alone.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones, the agency’s spokesperson, said the amount includes only the projected expenses on surveys of illegal occupants, demolition of illegal structures, monitoring of the operation, measures to address problems on solid waste, and filing of charges against violators.

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This excludes travel and operating expenses of at least 120 DENR personnel from regional offices and bureaus of the central offices who have been deployed under a national task force to address the environmental problems of the island.

The members of the task force are expected to be deployed on the island for six months to meet the deadline set by President Duterte to address the problem of Boracay, considered the country’s prime tourist destination.

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The national task force has set up a command center at a hotel here and also a coordinating center at another hotel in Nabas town in the mainland.

Leones said the amount is an initial estimate as efforts on the island will be finalized by a multi-agency task force including the Departments of Tourism, Justice, and Public Works and Highways.

He said more expenses are expected in the rehabilitation of areas that will be cleared of illegal structures.

The expenses of personnel from regions are initially being sources from the regional offices.

DENR personnel have been serving notices of violation to establishments illegally discharging waste water and show cause order on structures located in areas categorized as forest lands.

DENR teams reported that 562 establishments in Boracay were expected from February 19 to 24.

Out of these establishments, 92 violated the Clean Water Act while 78 violated the Clean Air Act.

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The teams issued 181 notices of violation to establishments.

The Senate committees on environment and natural resources and on tourism will hold a joint hearing on March 2 on the island in relation to the environmental problems on the island.

The senators are expected to conduct and ocular inspection before the hearing.

Leones said there was a need to review existing environmental laws as these were enacted in the 1970s.

“We need to strengthen the laws and increase penalties,” he told the INQUIRER.

He cited the Environmental Impact Statement system which defines the process of securing environmental permits and compliance on projects that may impact on the environment. /je

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TAGS: Boracay, crackdown, demolition, DENR, environment, Rehabilitation, task force, Waste
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