January 12, 2018

THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) must exercise utmost vigilance especially in monitoring compliance to or violation of environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act 9003) and the Clean Water Act (RA 9275) in Boracay Island, the so-called crown jewel of Philippine tourism.

It is public knowledge that Boracay has  poor waste management but Tourism secretary Wanda Teo’s disclosure that over 100 business establishments in the island would be held accountable for lack of proper sanitary sewer system came as a shock. This is how rampant the problem is in the world-famous island.

DENR should act decisively in coordination with the Department of Tourism before we totally lose Boracay to irresponsible tourism and development. During a hearing for the proposed 2018 budget of the DENR, environment champion Sen. Loren Legarda challenged the department to make Boracay a model for ecological solid waste management (ESWM). She also renewed her call for a stronger implementation of RA 9003 in the island.

“Let us make Boracay a model green island that exercises the elements of a blue economy, respecting and protecting the water around it,” says the senator. In other words, let’s make Boracay an example of sustainable tourism. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

But really, DENR should not focus on Boracay only. The department itself said there are still 420 local government units with open dumpsites, which are prohibited under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law. It thus must ensure full compliance to the law down to all barangays across the country. The task is herculean but if one barangay can do it, there is no reason for the 42,000 other barangays not to do it. It’s not rocket science. Every home in every barangay can practice waste segregation. If every household is involved, we can live in a clean and healthy environment.


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