‘My heart bleeds for Boracay’
Seeing the overpopulation, uncontrolled and unregulated manner of building establishments and aboveboard environmental violations in the island of Boracay, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Director in Western Visayas Jim Sampulna said it is high time all stakeholders worked together to address the issues before it is too late.
“I wish I could stop talking, but my heart bleeds for Boracay,” Sampulna said.
The environment department has been given six months along with other concerned agencies, the local government units (LGUs) and the business sector to fix the problems in Boracay or it would be shut down as warned by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Sampulna said the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) had already distributed notices of violation (NOVs) to 51 establishments in Boracay Island. This was the first batch of the 300 identified by the EMB to have violated conditions in their environmental compliance certificates or ECCs.
“We will be calling them for a technical conference and from there, they need to work on the required measures to address their violations. If they will not shape up, we will be escalating their cases to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB). The PAB will then decide whether to penalize them or totally close them down,” he added.
As for illegal forest occupants who have encroached on the island’s timberland areas, a total of 174 initial show cause orders have already been signed by Aklan DENR provincial officer Valentin P. Tabalero.
The DENR-6 had accounted for 842 illegal occupants within the timberland in July last year. The rest of the show cause orders would be issued as well.
“We will meet with them and if they cannot present to us any documents that would prove their legal occupancy – say, special permits from DENR such as FLAGT or the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes – we will tell them to vacate the area. The timberland belongs to the state,” Sampulna said.