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Senators to look into Boracay environmental degradation

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By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate will be investigating starting next week the pollution and environment degradation in Boracay Island.

In this photo dated January 9, 2018, tourists enjoy Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan. It was the same day tourism and environment officials inspected the island due to mounting problems.  (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

In this photo dated January 9, 2018, tourists enjoy Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan. It was the same day tourism and environment officials inspected the island due to mounting problems. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, led by Senator Cynthia Villar, together with the Committees on Tourism and Finance, are set to hold a joint hearing in the world-famous island in Malay, Aklan, on March 2, Friday.

Prior to the hearing, senators will conduct an ocular inspection in some areas of the island to see for themselves the extent of the reported pollution and contamination of its waters.

The Senate inquiry, in aid of legislation, will look into , the severe pollution in Boracay to address its “deteriorating” state and promote sustainable development.

The probe will also review the compliance by resorts and establishments with existing environment and tourism laws, which were reported to be the culprit behind the water contamination.

Pollution and degradation of other beach destinations in the country will also be discussed in the hearing.

Boracay Island was put in spotlight after President Duterte warned he would close down the popular tourist destination for violation by some businesses of environmental laws.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva has also filed a resolution seeking the review of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) policy in approving and monitoring the applications for Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs) of establishments.

In his Senate Resolution No. 646, Villanueva cited the need for the review to ensure that the ECCs being issued by the DENR to any activity would guarantee the prevention of environmental damage and would not aggravate the impact of climate change.

He called on the DENR to upgrade the process of environmental assessment and issuance of ECC.

“Businesses and industries should account for the possible impact of their operations in aggravating the impact of climate change. Our regulatory agencies should also improve their capacity in monitoring compliance and enforcement of environmental policies,” Villanueva said.

The DENR had given notices of violation to 51 establishments in Boracay Islang found violating the Clean Water Act of 2004, which mandates all commercial and residential establishments dispose septic wastes through a treatment facility.

Some 300 establishments in Boracay Island are also being investigated by the DENR for possible violations.

Furthermore, the DENR is set to serve 174 show-cause orders to illegal forest occupants who have encroached on the island’s timberland areas.

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