Local officials may face raps over Boracay mess

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2018 04:37 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2018 12:35 PM

Boracay island. Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Local government officials of Malay town in Aklan may face administrative cases if found negligent in their duties in relation to sewage problems hounding Boracay island.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said the agency is waiting for results of the investigation on the situation in Boracay to determine what cases local authorities may face.

Año said he and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu have discussed appropriate measures to be taken in connection with environmental issues at the nation's top tourist spot. 

"'Yung mga nag-violate ng environment[al] protection laws doon fa-filean na ng kaso 'yan, then kami ang magfa-follow up niyan sa appropriate court or Ombudsman, then we can implement sanctions," Año said.

(Those who violated environmental protection laws will be charged, then we will follow up the case at the appropriate court or Ombudsman, then we can implement sanctions.)

Cimatu on Tuesday led the inspection and posting of notices to owners of several establishments in Boracay that have violated the "No-Build Zone."

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu leads the inspection of several establishments in Boracay island on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News

The environment chief urged building owners to voluntarily demolish their structures built along the "No-Build Zone" in 15 days, otherwise the government will demolish these.

"We will be giving them several days from now because they still have their guests. They probably will have to announce [to] their marketing [team] not to allow guests to come over," Cimatu said.

There are 18 businesses on the list of easement violators in the beachfront area of station 1 in Barangay Balabag in Malay.

The DILG, meanwhile, will assess how local officials issued permits and monitored establishments on the island, Año said. 

Sanctions may range from suspension to dismissal, depending on the gravity of the offense, Año said. 

"We will make sure magiging accountable hindi lang ang local government, pati participation ng ibang agencies, ang local representative in the municipality of Malay, Aklan," he added.

(We will make sure that everyone will be held accountable including other agencies and the local representative in the municipality of Malay, Aklan.)

STATE OF CALAMITY?

The former military chief is also mulling recommending that the President place Boracay island under a state of calamity.

"Isa 'yan sa proposal na gusto naming i-recommend sa ating presidente para mapabilis ang intervention ng mga national agencies in order to rehabilitate Boracay the soonest possible time," he said.

(That is one of the proposals that we want to recommend to the president to speed up the intervention of national agencies in order to rehabilitate Boracay the soonest possible time.)

Government agencies initiated an unprecedented cleanup in Boracay this month after President Rodrigo Duterte cited the island's sewage problems, calling it a "cesspool" and threatening to shut it down.

Año said Duterte gave them half a year to rehabilitate Boracay. 

"Within this 6 months, we will finalize all actions as well as other recommendations," he said.

Año also echoed Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo's recommendation to temporarily shut down Boracay to implement rehabilitation plans.

"What we are contemplating is there might be a need for temporary closure for a certain period of time within the 6-months time frame so that we can implement massive rehabilitation and even demolition of establishments that are not following rules and regulations," he said.

-with a report from Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News