ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday reminded the local officials of Malay, Aklan, of their “shared responsibility” to enforce environmental laws in the world-famous Boracay Island.
Tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to fix the environmental problems in Boracay in six months, he said the local government unit of Malay must share with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the responsibility of enforcing environmental protection and conservation laws.
“The local government of Malay has direct jurisdiction and supervision over Boracay,” Cimatu said.
“It is the primary government unit responsible for ensuring that all laws, environmental or otherwise, are executed and followed.”
In other developments:
• Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said Wednesday he fully supports Duterte’s six-month deadline to the Environment and Interior Departments of Environment and Natural Resources to fix the pollution problem on Boracay Island.
“The massive cleanup of Boracay is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we are to collectively save and sustain Boracay," Teo said.
• Three senators have also joined the call to save Boracay.
“We have to get our acts together,” said Senator Juan Edgardo Angara as he noted that Boracay attracts two million tourists every year and brings in more than P50 billion in annual revenue.
Senator Nancy Binay urged the Environment department and the municipality of Malay, Aklan, to organize citizens’ teams that will watch Boracay.
“They will serve as the eyes and ears and periodically check that the President’s list of things to do is done,” she said.
Senator Win Gatchalian said Boracay was the problem of the local government and the provincial government “since they have regulatory power.”
Cimatu said he was expecting the local government of Aklan to give its all-out support for the Environment Department and other concerned agencies to meet the deadline set by the President for cleaning up Boracay.
“Just like students who are told to pass their papers, finished or not finished, on a set deadline, the same will be for us in the DENR. We have to put an end to this huge Boracay problem in six months,” Cimatu said.
Within the next six months, Cimatu said, the agency would lead the “transformation” of Boracay starting with the removal of illegal structures that had been polluting the island.
“We have to go back to the core of the problem, which is the strict enforcement of all existing laws and the protection of the environment,” Cimatu said.
“Let this Boracay issue serve notice to local governments, businesses and residents of other tourism destinations to strictly follow all our laws. Let us not allow the other beautiful and pristine islands in the country to suffer the fate of Boracay.”