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Legarda: Boracay’s Problem Is Non-Compliance With Env’t Laws

March 2, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the main problem in Boracay Island is the weak enforcement of and non-compliance in the country’s environmental laws.

Legarda made the statement during the Senate hearing conducted in Boracay Island to look into the environmental issues concerning the famous tourist destination.

“If we simply comply with environmental laws, especially the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law, we would not have to be here. This is not just an issue to point to the local government and other government agencies. We are all in this together. The problem in Boracay is also the problem of many eco-tourism areas and other communities in the country, which is why the government must strictly enforce environmental laws, while residents and business establishments should also comply with our laws,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment.

The Senator said the island must have sewerage and septage systems as she cited figures from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that around 17.5 million liters of wastewater is generated in Boracay island every day and only about half of which is treated properly, while the other half is discharged untreated. About 30 to 40 percent of the untreated wastewater comes from private homes, and the rest from business establishments.

She added that the implementation of the ESWM law will address solid waste disposal issues in the island, citing successful practices of communities that are faithfully complying with the law, such as San Fernando City in Pampanga, where waste diversion rate is at 55%, which means that instead of being brought to landfills, this much of waste is either recycled or composted; and Barangay Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which diverts 80% of its waste simply by building a materials recovery facility (MRF) and hiring waste collectors to visit every household, check their garbage, separate organic waste and bring it to the facility.

Other communities that have been successful in implementing the ESWM law areBarangays Neogan in Tagaytay and Potrero in Malabon, which even won the Metro Manila Development Authority’s Best Solid Waste Management Program Award in 2015.

Meanwhile, Legarda supported DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu’s recommendation for the creation of an entity in DENR to ensure the strict implementation of environmental laws.

In line with this, she asked the DENR to submit proposals for inclusion in the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP)—what they need to ensure the strict implementation and enforcement of environmental laws—and also urged the Department to activate a unit to exercise oversight functions, monitoring, supervision, and enforcement of laws.

Legarda also suggested that the DENR, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) enter into a joint undertaking with the Office of the Ombudsman for the filing of cases against local government units that fail to implement the country’s environmental laws.

“Our government agencies and LGUs must step up in enforcing our laws. At the same time, all the residents and tourists in Boracay should be accountable for the preservation of the island. We should not use our islands, seas, bays and rivers as sewerage or garbage bins. We should not build on protected areas or encroach critical biodiversity areas; instead, we must preserve our wetlands and forestlands, which ensures the balance of our ecosystem. We must do this not only in Boracay but also in other parts of the country, especially our eco-tourism areas,” Legarda concluded.