DENR orders closure of 51 Boracay establishments as cleanup begins

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 09:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2018 09:52 PM

Boracay Island. Rhys Buccat, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the closure of 51 establishments in tourist island Boracay found to have violated water, waste management and land use regulations.

"[I] ordered immediate closure all those establishments in Boracay to be given notice of violation. When you issue a notice of violation, ang susunod diyan (what follows) is there will be technical conference with DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)," Cimatu said in an interview in Baguio City Wednesday. 

"Pina-close ko na 'yung 51. Matapos na itong proseso within a week (I have ordered the shutdown of the 51 establishments. This process will be finished within a week)," he said. 

Cimatu gave the closure directive shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte called the crowded island a "cesspool" and threatened to close it down to protect the health of millions of visitors.

Cimatu said establishments that were ordered closed violated the Clean Water Act, the Ecological Waste Management Act and regulations on land use.

"The first violation is the clean water act... You are not supposed to release your wastewater to the sea, and establishments there are not compliant. Dinederetso na nila sa (They send it straight to the) canal up to the beach of Boracay," he said.

Cimatu said the establishments also violated waste management regulations and occupied land set aside for trees. 

"The government proclaims...give the timberland, the trees [space] to grow. Pero in-occupy ng mga establishments dun, gumawa na sila ng building. Nagpunta na din 'yung mga illegal settlers (But the establishments put up buildings there. And that drew illegal settlers)," he said. 

Cimatu also gave the local government a 6-month deadline to clean up the island.

"I will give you 6 months to clean up Boracay. LGU (local government unit) ang may responsibilidad dito. Sila 'yung mga nagma-manage sa cleanliness (The LGU is responsible for this. They are the ones who manage cleanliness)." 

He added that the local government continued to allow construction of new structures even while the island was already choking with buildings. 

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Speaking to ANC on Wednesday, Boracay Foundation Inc President Nenette Graf said they have yet to receive the list of 51 establishments.

"We have yet to receive a copy nor [have] our vendors and other violators received a notice of violation," Graf said.

She added that the closure is a bit "alarming" since the President's statement has caught international attention.

"We welcome the President's 6-month order to fix Boracay and our foundation...[is] willing to cooperate and work with the DENR to help them fast-track this deadline of the President," she said.

Boracay, located on the northern tip of central Panay island, attracts nearly 2 million domestic and foreign visitors every year because of its fine, sugary white sand, lively night scene and abundant water sports. -- Report from Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News