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Legarda Supports Comprehensive Government Intervention in Boracay

April 12, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today supported the government agencies’ plans to rehabilitate the island of Boracay and expressed that these interventions be implemented as well in all other tourist destinations all over the country.

“Boracay’s issue is foremost an environmental concern, and I am glad that our Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is taking the lead in returning the island back to its pristine state,” Legarda said.

Legarda noted that upon assessing the situation, the DENR identified five key problem areas that will be addressed within six months in Boracay. These are: (1) drainage and sewerage management; (2) solid waste management, (3) forestlands and easement recovery and alienable and disposable lands management, (4) road and transport; and (5) biodiversity conservation, wetlands rehabilitation, and geohazards management.

The DENR proposes to address drainage and sewerage through: opening and unclogging of drainages; siphoning, desilting, and water treatment; cutting of illegal lines; treatment and disposal of stale water in holding tank; building of temporary interceptor in drainage outfall; rehabilitation of Balabag Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP), among others.

To address solid waste management concerns, Legarda said that the DENR should strictly implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which promotes a clean and healthy environment through a system of solid waste management that includes segregation of garbage at its source, segregated transportation, processing, treatment and proper disposal of solid waste. It emphasizes on recycling so that less garbage is actually brought to the sanitary landfill and those brought to the final disposal site are effectively maintained. It bans open dumpsites, the use of incinerators, and burning of waste. It promotes the use of environment-friendly disposal of solid waste.

“We have seen successes in the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, specifically in San Fernando City in Pampanga, where waste diversion rate is at 78%; and in 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,” Legarda said.

“We also have Barangays Neogan in Tagaytay and Potrero in Malabon, which won the Metro Manila Development Authority’s Best Solid Waste Management Program Award in 2015, because of its successful implementation of our ESWM Law.”

“Within six months, Boracay could replicate the system of turning waste into opportunities by establishing MRFs in strategic locations within the island. A massive information drive on ecological solid waste management should also be done,” Legarda added.

Meanwhile, for forestlands and easement recovery and alienable and disposable lands management, the DENR said it will prepare spatial data on Boracay and management of public lands, which will include: sending of show-cause orders and evaluation of answers; sending of notice to vacate (NTV) in forestlands; filing of cases in court (against those in violation of the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines and Presidential Proclamation No. 1064); sending of notices to demolish; and identification of resettlement areas.

To protect wetlands, illegal structures, piled debris, sediments, and invasive alien species will be removed. For geohazards management, the DENR will update the Sinkhole and Cave Inventory Geotechnical Studies and monitor for signs of karst subsidence. To protect biodiversity, a Boracay Island Critical Habitats (BICH) will also be established and Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEO) will also be deputized.

Legarda also echoed the call of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) not to terminate employees during the six-month closure of Boracay and instead observe a “No Work, No Pay” scheme or require employees to utilize leave credits, if possible.

“I hope the concerned government agencies are reaching out to all affected workers and residents and are ready to extend maximum assistance towards the affected population,” Legarda said.

Aside from the initial Php60 Million for the emergency employment assistance that will employ 5,000 informal sector workers and members of the indigenous community for the clean-up, Legarda said that the DOLE should also utilize the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) Workers Program, which has a budget of Php2.3 Billion for this year.

The DOLE’s TUPAD Workers Program helps cushion the effects of unemployment, especially for laid-off or retrenched workers, as well as for self-employed workers whose livelihoods have been damaged by disasters and other crises, such as the impending temporary closure of Boracay.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), on the other hand, will set up two operation centers to facilitate the release of cash, supplies, and welfare services for the affected residents of Boracay.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has also announced that, upon the resumption of Boracay operations after six months, it will enforce a limit on tourist arrivals on the island. The quota will be determined following the update of the DENR of the island’s current carrying capacity.

Legarda also urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to ensure that local government officials are well versed in implementing early warning systems and in developing local disaster preparedness plans.

“It is my fervent hope that Boracay, after a six-month retreat, will be restored to its clean and breathtaking state. As the island undergoes rehabilitation, may we rectify our negative behavior and actions towards the environment and contemplate on ways to protect and preserve it for the future of humanity,” Legarda concluded.