Legarda Lauds Ombudsman for Relief of Officials over Boracay Neglect, Urges LGUs to Implement Envi Laws

April 25, 2019

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for local government units (LGUs) to implement the country’s environmental laws as she commended the Office of the Ombudsman for its dismissal of Malay town Mayor Ceciron Cawaling and Licensing Officer Jen Salsona in relation to the administrative complaint filed against them for negligence in the management of Boracay Island.

It would be recalled that Boracay Island underwent a six-month temporary closure in April 2018 because of its degradation. It was reopened in October last year following successful rehabilitation efforts.

“I laud the Ombudsman for siding with the people, who are the victims of environmental degradation due to local governments’ non-compliance in the country’s environmental laws. It is about time we take the environment seriously and LGUs must heed the call to adopt sustainable management of our natural resources,” said Legarda, who authored the country’s landmark laws on environment, such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance and Climate Change and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Environment, said that the main problem in Boracay Island was the weak enforcement of and non-compliance in the country’s environmental laws.

“The previous problem of Boracay is also the problem of many ecotourism 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,” she stressed.

She explained that simply following the EWSM Law would make a big difference in addressing solid waste disposal issues. Communities that are faithfully implementing the ESWM have reported up to 80 percent waste diversion rate, which means that instead of being brought to landfills, this much of waste is either recycled or composted.

Legarda added that protected areas and critical biodiversity areas, such as forestlands and wetlands, should be protected and respected, not encroached, to ensure ecosystem balance and environmental sustainability.

“Boracay’s successful rehabilitation is an example of political will, strong leadership, and cooperation among stakeholders. It is still a work in progress and much still has to be done, but it is a good start. We should also strengthen the protection of all other ecotourism areas in our country.”

“Our government agencies and LGUs must step up in enforcing our laws. With this action of the Ombudsman to dismiss officials for environmental violations, I am confident that more LGUs will be encouraged, if not compelled, to take up their responsibility of implementing all our environmental laws to ensure clean, resilient and sustainable communities,” Legarda concluded.