Boracay faces possible 60-day closure: Año

Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2018 01:09 AM | Updated as of Mar 02 2018 01:35 PM

Watch more in iWantv or TFC.tv

Ahead of a Senate hearing in Boracay, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo Año on Thursday said negligence on the part of government officials was the reason why the island is now facing a possible 60-day closure.

"Obviously, may mga government officials dito na naging negligent. May mga buildings dito tumayo walang permit, walang business permit. Mayroon naman may business permit pero wala namang ECC (environmental compliance certificates)," Año told reporters in a chance interview.

"At 'yung mga businesses nito lumampas na sa 25 plus 5 easement. Talagang violation talaga. Siguro we're talking here of 800 plus establishments."

"Kasama na ang LGUs (local government units). Kung mayroon ding masasamang other government officials sa ibang agencies or department, malalaman natin sa investigation," he said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Año said he is looking at filing charges against certain local officials in relation to the severe environmental degradation of Boracay.

The cases will be filed in "less than 6 months" before the Office of the Ombudsman, he said.

Malay town Mayor Ciceron Cawaling on Tuesday said he is ready to face investigation and possible charges in relation to sewage problems hounding Boracay island.

"Well wala tayong magagawa but I have to defend myself kung pafile-an tayo ng kaso. Kahit hindi ko kasalanan 'yun, kahit hindi kasalanan ng local government... kung may mga aksiyon na ganyan, hindi naman siguro magpa-file ng kaso na walang due process," Cawaling told ABS-CBN News.

Año said his department is also looking into the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"Palagay ko kailangan tingnan din 'yan sa investigation. Ano ba iyong ginawa nila at di nila ginawa na nakaapekto sa paglala ng
situation dito. Mayroon ding ginagawang sariling investigation [ang] DENR sa kanila. Kami rin mayroon. Kung may mahahagip kami don, so be it," he said.

Año said he was disheartened after the aerial inspection over the island on Thursday.

"The last time I was here was 2009. Ang ganda ganda pa ng Boracay. Kanina, sa aerial inspection, nakakapanlumo, nakakapanghinayang, halos wala ka nang makita sa shoreline eh puro structure na katabi na agad ng dagat, tapos ibang part, iba ang kulay ng tubig. Tapos iyung nilalabasan ng sewerage. Dapat alagaan [ang] Boracay. May portion na kahit hindi umuulan, bumabaha at iba na 'yung amoy," he said.

The inspection came on the eve of the Senate's on-site investigation on the DENR's issuance of ECCs to several establishments on the resort island despite reported violations of environmental laws.

-- with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News