By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to hand out sanctions before the end of March to businesses in Boracay Island that fail to address environmental offenses.
So far, DENR has issued 181 notices of violation (NOV) to 161 establishments found violating environmental laws and have already surveyed 562 establishments.
Some of these establishments, which included resorts, hotels, spas and restaurants, were already repeat offenders.
Of the 181 NOVs issued, 92 were for violations of the Clean Water Act (expired discharge permits/no discharge permit), 78 were for violations of the Clean Air Act (no permit to operate), four were for violations of both the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, and seven were for violations of the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (no environmental compliance certificate).
Under the DENR’s procedures, an NOV will be issued against an erring establishment, which will be called to a technical conference.
Violators will then be given one or two months to address their violations. The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will evaluate their compliance.
If the violations are not addressed, the EMB can elevate the case to the Pollution Adjudication Board with a recommendation to issue a cease and desist order against the establishment.
“We are fast tracking our processes, and we’ll probably see sanctions handed out before the end of March to businesses that fail to roll out remedial measures to their notices of violation,” Cimatu said.
The DENR chief is currently in Boracay overseeing the DENR mission team, which is looking for violations of environmental laws, such as failure to connect to the island’s sewage system, wastewater with excessive effluents, failure to secure or update their environmental compliance certificates, and illegal constructions in forestlands and wetlands, among others.
“Even if we are fast tracking our investigation processes, we will still follow the rules and will call those with NOVs to a technical conference, where they will need to present their remedial measures,” he said.
The businesses will then be given ample time to implement the remedial measures they have agreed upon.
“If they fail to comply after that time, they could face closure, fines, or a cease and desist order, once we elevate their case to the Pollution Adjudication Board,” Cimatu pointed out.
“To be fair, there are businesses that have successfully complied and rectified their violations. The point here is they have to comply with environmental laws. If they can’t comply, they have no business having business there,” he added.