MANILA - The Department of Tourism is temporarily halting processing of new and expiring accreditation certificates to establishments in Boracay island which are not complying with environmental laws.
"To prevent continued harmful disposal of wastewater into the seas surrounding the island's three barangays (Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapac), the DOT is imposing a six-month moratorium on accreditation during which resorts and other establishments must acquire and maintain individual water treatment facility, as well as connect to the centralized sewerage system," the Department said in a statement.
The DOT issues an accreditation to establishments to certify "that the holder is recognized by the Department as having complied with its minimum standards in the operation of the establishment concerned," it said in its website.
Tourism Regional Director Helen Catalbas told ABS-CBN News she has sought Secretary Wanda Teo's approval for the suspension of the accreditation campaign and for "new applications and applications for renewal of DOT accreditation be held in abeyance until certificate/s of environmental laws compliance issued by DENR is/are presented."
She said she would also want that only establishments that are accredited and compliant be included in future trade and tourism fairs, both locally and internationally.
Teo also told ABS-CBN News she was inclined to approve the recommendation.
Only 18 percent of the about 500 accredited hotel and resorts in Boracay were connected to the sewerage treatment plant, said Tourism Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Interior and Local Government are giving the non-compliant establishments 15 days to respond and 6 months to connect to the system, he said.
There will also be an order to be released that will require all new resorts and hotels to put up their own water discharge water facility and the old ones to install the system or connect to the existing STP if available within 6 months, he added.
In the statement, the DOT said the department, along with DENR and the DILG, will "press appropriate criminal and administrative charges against those establishments/operators responsible for the seawater contamination in violation of environmental and tourism laws."
"While there is no definitive plan to place Boracay under a state-of-calamity or to close Boracay to international and domestic visitors altogether, the DOT shares the optimism of well-meaning and law-abiding stakeholder operators that Boracay Island will be completely restored in six month-period," it said.
The government has initiated an unprecedented cleanup in Boracay this month after Duterte cited the island's sewage problems, calling it a "cesspool" and threatening to shut it down.