A threat of losing DOT accreditation, among others, looms on hotels found violating environmental laws. This was divulged in yesterday’s press conference in Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa spearheaded by DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, and Malay, Aklan Mayor Ceciron Cawaling.
Teo revealed that some hotels are tapping into the water drainage system that TIEZA, a government agency, built to alleviate the island’s flooding during heavy rains.
“There are some hotels that are tapping into the pipes of TIEZA that is built for rainwater only; but these hotels are using it for their own sewage,” she said.
It was found that these illegal connections form a big part of Boracay’s contaminated waters arising from floodwaters being drained to the sea during heavy rain brought by seasonal typhoons.
“We have a list of 100 establishments here and we will identify those who tapped. This needs political will, DOT and DENR will be here and watching,” she added.
A confluence to save Boracay
For their part, Cimatu stated that DENR will send his team to periodically test the waters in Boracay to advise and make sure that tourists can swim in cleaner waters. Two of their mandates are to implement the Clean Water Act and the Solid Waste Management Law that Cimatu intends to carry it out seriously.
“Our main problem is the enforcement and we are strengthening it. We are, in fact, bringing back our office here in Boracay that was transferred to Kalibo years back. I am also creating an enforcement arm to tackle these environmental issues in the country—one on mining and illegal logging, another is the environmental issue that includes Boracay.”
Teo emphasized that DOT can only do so much as her department is not mandated to tackle environmental issues.
“The drainage is the main problem. We are actually being blamed for environmental concerns but we are not mandated to enforce nor do we have police powers. We can only help with funding projects through TIEZA. The four of us, Secretary Cimatu, Governor Miraflores, myself, and Mayor Cawaling will be meeting every now and then to monitor developments. We like to fix the Boracay problem that much that Sec Cimatu and I will be presenting our recommendations to President Duterte in the next cabinet meeting for him to issue an Executive Order, if needed. For as long as I am Secretary of Tourism, I will do everything to help in fixing Boracay, that is my promise.”
TIEZA’s drainage project has been allocated an initial budget of PhP716 million for a 4-stage, 3-phase development that stakeholders see as “slow”. TIEZA is now seeking an additional PhP400 million to complete 3 remaining stages of phase 2 in the second quarter of 2019.
Miraflores expressed his gratitude for the collaboration of the agencies in helping Boracay. “I am happy that the long awaited drainage project will push through in one go instead of being developed in phases. Hopefully, by 2019, the problem of flooding will be non-existent. Aside from that, there will be a feedback mechanism that will allow Mayor Cawaling and we are here to listen to your complaints so we can relay it to the two Secretaries to submit to the President, and hopefully be acted upon. Boracay, despite criticisms and issues, is still number one in the world. We just have to remain vigilant.”