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834 of Boracay's 2,600 establishments discharge wastewater into sea - Cimatu.

By Minerva BC Newman and Madelaine B. Miraflor

Cebu City - Of the 2,600 establishments in the tourist island of Boracay, about 834 are discharging wastewater illegally into the sea. Of these, only 118 have permits. The rest do not have permits and presumed to be discharging wastewater into the beach waters.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatumade this revelation at the 2nd Philippine Environment Summit in Lahug, Cebu City.

Cimatu said Boracay's original pristine condition has deteriorated so badly and cited several conditions that led to its serious environmental state - the influx of people beyond the island's carrying capacity, poor implementation of environmental laws, particularly the Clean Water Act, and the illegal encroachment on easement areas and forest lands.

Calling Boracay a "cesspool," President Duterte gave the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) six months to improve the worsening condition of the island paradise. The President threatened to close the island if DENR fails in its mission.

Because of this, Cimatu has deployed additional manpower he described as his "mission team" to particularly focus on addressing environmental issues.

The team is composed of 50 personnel from six regional offices of DENR.

"The mission of the team will be to rehabilitate and restore Boracay in becoming again a paradise. We are given six months by the President," Cimatu said.

Cleanup team

He said the island will be divided into six areas and each of the six regions will be assigned an area to work on.

"We will be using all our government and the DENR assets and personnel to do this job. Those who will be deployed will be on a rotation basis," Cimatu said.

Cimatu said Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Metodio Turbella is already in Boracay to assist DENR Region 6 Director Jim Sampulna.

He said that each bureau of the department is to contribute personnel to augment the DENR contingent in Boracay.

"Expect that the DENR will be there, about 50 personnel from all over the regions and from Central Office. We will start it right now, our presence in Boracay," Cimatu said.

The local government of Malay town assured the Duterte administration of its cooperation in cleaning up Boracay.

"The municipal government offers its full cooperation in the rehabilitation of Boracay within six months," it said in a statement.

Inspectors

The DENR secretary also said he is sending 12 teams of about 100 DENR personnel to inspect the pipeline of each establishment in the beachfront to expose violators who are polluting the water of their waste discharge.

He expects the number of cases brought to the Pollution Adjudication Board to increase after the inspection process.

"We shall not relent in our efforts until we have turned around the condition of Boracay," Cimatu assured the Summit participants and the media.

He also called on other business establishments in the country to stop using the canals of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as their direct pipeline in the discharge of untreated wastewater that flows out into the sea. (With a report from Tara Yap)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 21, 2018
Words:510
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