DILG files raps vs 17 Aklan officials over Boracay mess

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 27) — The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has filed administrative charges against 17 public officials of Aklan over alleged conspiracy and violation of environmental laws in Boracay.

Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing filed the charges before the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday against the following local officials:

  • Governor Florencio Miraflores
  • Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Valentin Talabero (appointive)
  • Mayor Ciceron Cawaling
  • Vice Mayor Abram Sualog
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Natalie Cawaling-Paderes
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Jupiter Alfred Gallenero
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Frolibar Bautista
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Lloyd Maming
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Dalidig Sumndad
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Maylynn Aguirre-Graf
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Danilo delos Santos
  • Sanggunian Bayan Member Dante Pagsuguiron
  • Licensing Officer III Jen Salson (appointive)
  • Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office Edgardo Sancho (appointive)
  • Barangay Captain Hector Casidsid of Barangay Yapak
  • Punong Barangay Chona Gabay of Barangay Manoc-Manoc
  • Punong Barangay Lilibeth Sacapaño of Barangay Balabag

Aside from malpractice and conduct unbecoming as public officials, the Interior Department also filed Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices raps against the officials.

The Department said the respondents illegally issued business permits and licenses and have given undue privilege even to unqualified representatives.

"Sa amin nakita meron silang inissuehan ng Mayor's Permit na hindi kumpleto ang dokumento. Gayundin may mga nakapag-operate ng walang Mayor's Permit at ito ay sakop ng barangay captains nila," Densing said.

"Kung nakita nilang walang Mayor's Permit dapat sa ground pa lang hindi na nila pina-operate yung mga establishments," he added.

The DILG also discovered that out of over 2,000 establishments they visited in Boracay, only 95 are fully compliant with the law.

The agency is asking the Ombudsman for the preventive suspension of all the respondents.

Boracay island has been closed to tourists since April 26 upon President Rodrigo Duterte's order.

The President said the shutdown will be up to six months, or until October. Duterte called the world-famous tourist destination "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.

'Just the beginning'

The Interior Department said this is just the first part of its investigation, as it has started looking into the collection of environmental fees with the Commission on Audit.

"[First], ang audit is magkano ba talaga ang nakolekta because we saw a discrepancy. Number two is how it was utilized...The environmental fees are supposed to be for environmental projects in Malay. So may nakita kaming hindi yata nila ginamit para doon," Densing said.

He said in 2016, the documents submitted by the Malay government showed a total of P107 million in collected environmental fees, but figures from the Tourism Department indicated it should have been at around P150 million.

Densing added some of the fees, which were supposed to be used exclusively on environmental projects, were used for maintenance and operating expenses.

As the COA audit covers documents as far back as 2010, Densing said the DILG may also file charges against former officials, which may include former Malay Mayor John Yap.