AMID REHABILITATION efforts in the tourist island of Boracay, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Wednesday, “I’m declaring land reform for the entire island of Boracay.”
“Sagarin na natin (Let’s go all the way). Give it to the people,” he said in a speech in Manila. “Boracay is still qualified as forestal and agricultural. Ayoko ng (I don’t want it) commercial.”
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), meanwhile, continues its operations in line with Mr. Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 53 on Boracay’s rehabilitation.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement on Wednesday that the DENR will go after establishments in Boracay that have built illegal underground sewers and pipelines.
“We will not hesitate to file appropriate charges against these erring establishments and base these charges on all the violations we can possibly identify against them, with maximum penalty, for contributing to the deterioration of Boracay,” he said, citing Republic Act No. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.
The Pollution Adjudication Board has recommended up to P200,000 for every day that business owners have violated the law, starting from the moment the pipes were set up.
The DENR said these establishments will also be closed, depending on the gravity of the offense. DENR, together with the assistance of local officials and government troops, have dug up 26 illegal pipes discharging wastewater directly to the beach.
For its part, Boracay Island Water Co., Inc. is going to accept establishments and residences that are not among its customers to be connected to its sewer system, the company’s parent firm said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Manila Water Co., Inc. said its unit “began fast-tracking the implementation of wastewater expansion projects to accommodate all establishments in the island including non-Boracay Water customers or those who are currently being served by [the] island’s other water service provider.”
“Boracay Water started its aggressive campaign to encourage connection to the company’s sewer network in March. To date, about 120 establishments and residences have signified their intention to be connected to the company’s sewer system,” the company said of the move, adding this was in line with Mr. Duterte’s EO.
The company said the move would allow more commercial and residential establishments to discharge their wastewater into a reliable sewer system and ensure that wastewater discharges are fully compliant with existing effluent standards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“More than 500 establishments have yet to be connected in areas where Boracay Water has an established sewer network,” it said.
Boracay Water said at least 1,200 establishments and residences are directly connected to its sewer network.
“For unsewered areas or areas with no existing sewer network, regular desludging or siphoning services are being done through the company’s desludging trucks which collect wastewater for treatment in the two sewage treatment plants of the Boracay Water located in barangays Manocmanoc and Balabag,” the company said. — reports by Victor V. Saulon, Anna Gabriela A. Mogato and Arjay L. Balinbin