By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws and regulations in 2019 to sustain the momentum generated by the rehabilitation of Boracay Island and other accomplishments of the agency last year.
“This year, I hope to send a strong message to environmental offenders and to the public of our seriousness in implementing and enforcing environmental laws, rules and regulations,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
He highlighted the Boracay rehabilitation as the “centerpiece of our 2018 accomplishments.”
The success of Boracay’s rehabilitation had spawned demands for replication so the DENR decided to have the rehabilitation of Manila Bay as its “next big target.”
The Manila Bay rehabilitation, Cimatu said, calls for a change in approach considering that its water quality has not improved despite a Supreme Court mandamus for its cleanup issued a decade ago.
“We are putting up a Manila Bay command center, we will get the local government units more involved, and we will be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws, particularly against the discharge of untreated wastewater into the bay,” Cimatu said.
Aside from the Boracay rehabilitation, Cimatu said the DENR, through the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), was also successful in enforcing the Clean Water Act in other parts of the country in 2018.
NWRB led the closure of 486 commercial establishments illegally operating deep wells.
It also slapped Pepsi Cola Products Inc. with a hefty fine of P11.8 million for operating six deep wells in Muntinlupa City without the necessary permits.
Cimatu also commended the combined forces of DENR, National Bureau of Investigation, the Cebu City government in apprehending those responsible in the butcher and sale of more than 100 kilograms of raw meat of endangered green sea turtles.
He rallied DENR officials and employees to let the success in Boracay “fuel our spirits in facing the challenges before us in 2019” and keep in mind that their mandate in the agency “transcends our personal needs, wants and interest.”