The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to come up with a list of violators of environmental laws in Boracay Island within the first week of November. This will facilitate the filing of appropriate administrative and criminal charges against these violators.
I have also directed the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) and the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Iloilo City to check on allegations that a resort has been constructed on top of coral reefs.
In a memorandum issued last October 26, I ordered Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Julian Amador to identify all establishments that continuously failed to comply with environmental laws, including existing rules and regulations being implemented by the DENR in the 1,006-hectare resort island.
The directive gives the Environmental Management Bureau two weeks to submit a comprehensive report with full details of violations. This is to ensure that no further environmental damage occurs within and around the island of Boracay while various issues concerning its protection and conservation are being assessed.
The order comes on the heels of the approval of a master plan for Boracay’s development that will identify areas and their designated uses and degree of development activities according to the areas’ identified carrying capacity.
In August 2007, I directed the DENR-Region 6 for a temporary suspension in the processing and issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC). At the same time, I also called on the local government to impose a moratorium on all construction activities in the island. The construction moratorium was intended to restore sanity and order in the island, which can be described as a national jewel every Filipino should be proud of.
Last October 16, Amador issued a memorandum to the DENR regional office reiterating that said moratorium on ECC processing and issuance in Boracay Island is still in effect “unless and until the Secretary lifts the moratorium,” adding that “the basis for lifting of such shall be the approved Boracay Master Plan.”
The master plan seeks to strike a balance between the sustainable growth of the island’s tourism industry while preserving its environment and natural resources. The master plan likewise evaluates the impacts of tourism-related activities and future development schemes in the island, as well.
Among the environmental threats in Boracay which the DENR has identified include the construction of resorts and tourism facilities along easement areas, illegal reclamation of wetlands, clearing of forested areas for building construction, garbage and air and water pollution.
In May 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1064 which classifies 63% of Boracay’s 1,006-hectare land area into alienable and disposable lands, with the remaining percentage as forestland.