THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it has reached an agreement with private-sector Boracay stakeholders regarding the construction of sewage treatment plants for the resort island.
The DENR said it signed the agreement Saturday with the Boracay Foundation, Inc., the Boracay Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Iloilo chapter of the Filipino Chinese Chamber Federation.
During the crackdown on Boracay businesses thought to be violating environmental rules, the DENR found drainage pipes connected to septic tanks directly discharging wastewater into the sea.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement that to fast-track the construction of the sewage treatment facilities, it is exempting them from the construction moratorium declared on the island.
The municipality of Malay, which has jurisdiction over Boracay, has also started implementing Ordinance No. 207, requiring establishments with 50 or more rooms to install their own sewage treatment plants, while smaller establishments can share such facilities with neighbors.
Mr. Cimatu said that he would only recommend the reopening of the resort island once the coliform bacteria count in the water drops to acceptable levels.
A high coliform bacteria count indicates high levels of fecal contamination.
“Unless the water quality improves and is compliant with our standard, I will not allow the reopening of Boracay,” he said.
He added that he has ordered the Environment Management Bureau to remove sewage pipes along the beach.
“It’s been almost a month now, but there’s not much improvement in the water quality. The results of the water samples are very erratic,” Mr. Cimatu said.
So far, the DENR has discovered 33 sewage pipes discharging wastewater into the sea and removed three. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato