DENR issues 51 notices of violation to erring Boracay establishments

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — Fifty-one Boracay establishments may face closure after the Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) served them notices of violation (NOV) for failing to comply with the country's water treatment laws.

In a press release on Wednesday, DENR said it had given notices to 51 unnamed establishments found violating Chapter 5, Section 27 of the Clean Water Act of 2004's implementing rules.

"Let this Boracay issue serve notice to local governments, businesses and residents of other tourism destinations to strictly follow all our laws. Let us not allow the other beautiful and pristine islands in the country to suffer the fate of Boracay," Cimatu said.

Earlier Cimatu said only 50 to 60 percent of Boracay establishments are compliant with the Clean Water Act, which mandates all commercial and residential establishments dispose septic waste through a treatment facility.

He said violating companies will be given two months to either install their own wastewater treatment facilities or connect to island's sewage treatment plant, or they would be closed.

The move comes after President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday instructed Cimatu to fix the island's problems within six months.

Duterte had likened the island to a "cesspool," and warned he would shut the island down due to pollution.

Following the President's directive, Cimatu has ordered DENR's regional office to evaluate 300 establishments on the island.

Cimatu to Malay gov't: Enforcing environmental laws 'shared responsibility'

Cimatu also issued a reminder to the municipal government of Malay, which has direct supervision over the tourist destination.

The Environment Secretary said it is the "primary government unit" responsible for ensuring all laws are followed in the municipality.

"Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is reminding the municipal government of Malay in Aklan province of its responsibility to protect and preserve the world-famous Boracay Island through strict implementation of pertinent environmental laws and regulations," DENR said in a press release.

It added, Cimatu expects the Aklan government to give its "all-out support" as government agencies work to meet Duterte's six-month deadline for Boracay.

DOT supports crackdown on erring Boracay establishments

The Tourism Department, meanwhile, expressed support for the government's crack down on Boracay establishments violating environmental laws.

In a statement issued Wednesday, DOT said it "fully supports" President Rodrigo Duterte's six-month deadline for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government to fix problems plaguing the popular tourist destination.

"[It's] high time to order the closure of some 200 tourism establishments in Boracay found violating environmental laws and regulations," Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo said in a statement.

Teo had made a cabinet presentation on Boracay's problems last week, before Duterte publicly directed Cimatu to solve the island's issues.

"The massive clean-up of Boracay is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we were to collectively save and sustain Boracay," she added.

Teo said she will also invite Cimatu and Interior Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año for another visit to the island soon.

The DOT's Western Visayas office will also open a compliance monitoring office on the island to ensure tourism establishments are operating within the department's standards.

This, in addition to having the Tourism Department's infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Authority (TIEZA) oversee the "swift completion" of the P716 million draining project to address flooding in the island.

Boracay has consistently been named one of the best islands in the world. The Department of Tourism said it generates around P50 billion in annual receipts.

Last year, more than two million tourists visited the island, according to Malay Municipal Tourism office records.