Barely a week after reopening, litter found on Boracay beach

Island visitors walk through the temporary port set up by the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force. PNA photo by Jay Rome Pablo

Three days after its reopening, Boracay island once again faced problems as visitors flocked the world-famous destination.

Piles of trash were seen along its coastline while businesses and establishments were fined for violating environmental laws.   

Tourists and locals witnessed the improper trash disposal seen on the newly-rehabilitated island, which had been closed for the past six months.

A report from The Philippine Daily Inquirer stated that first-time Russian visitors were dismayed by a pile of uncollected trash they saw on the roadside of D’Mall Plaza at Barangay Balagbag.

Aside from that, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has yet to enforce a ban on single-use plastics on the said island. Stores and restaurants still contain their food and drinks on disposable materials such as plastic plates, cups and straws. DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said that the strict implementation of the ban would start after November 2.

As of this writing, Boracay has five garbage collection points wherein tourists and locals would drop their segregated trash and will be collected from 2 am until sunrise. A “no segregation, no collection” policy has been implemented by Alberto Rodriguez who oversees the disposal.

“If I say I will not accept their garbage, they cannot do anything. I am just doing my job,” Rodriguez said as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

DENR fines 219 businesses

A hefty amount of P43 million worth of fines was collected by the DENR’s Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) on 219 businesses and establishments in Boracay for violation of environmental laws just days after they resumed operations.

DENR Undersecretary and PAB’s presiding officer Rodolfo Garcia said that the collected fines ranging from P10,000 to millions depending on the weight of the offense.

“We at the DENR believe that anyone who pollutes or destroys the environment must pay the cost for that destruction,” Garcia said as reported by The Manila Times.

Garcia was adamant on the reprehension of those who fail to follow the rules and guidelines of the rehabilitated island. He added that the other branches of the government are in support of the said move to rid the destination of people with no regard for the environment.

“The DENR, together with other concerned government agencies, is firm in its resolve to clean not only the waters and air of Boracay and to manage its solid waste. It also wants to clear Boracay of irresponsible and greedy business people who have placed care for the environment their least priority,” Garcia said.

The PAB officer also stated that the institution will maintain the guidelines and disciplinary actions so that the businesses and establishment will continue to abide by them

“We will continue to monitor all establishments and impose the necessary penalties should they be found breaking laws,” Garcia added.

More than half of the fined establishments violated the Clean Air Act of the Philippines which requires a permit to operate all sources of air pollution from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). The 110 businesses fined a total of P1.5 million.

A total of P2 million was collected from 72 establishments for violating The Philippine Clean Water Act. Another P39 million was collected from five businesses that discharged untreated wastewater.  

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the cleanup and rehabilitation of the famous tourist spot due to the widespread disregard for cleanliness  exhibited on the island. Government officials recommended a month-long shutdown of Boracay annually to reestablish its beauty amid the influx of tourists it welcomes on a regular basis. 

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