Cimatu: Strict compliance with guidelines required even during Boracay dry run

Government agencies in charge of the rehabilitation of Boracay will closely monitor compliance and effectiveness of the guidelines laid down to protect the resort island from unsustainable tourism practices during its dry run or partial reopening from October 15 to 25.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, head of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), said the 11-day dry run would allow government to test all systems put in place during the six months Boracay underwent much-needed rest and cleanup.

He therefore appealed for cooperation and understanding from all stakeholders and local tourists, who will be among the firsts to experience a reinvigorated Boracay.

“We will be monitoring a lot of things, from managing the entrance, exit, and stay of the tourists, to enforcing rule of law on establishments that have been found to be non-compliant to laws and regulations,” Cimatu said.

The former military chief said the government would strictly enforce the “no compliance, no operation” policy for establishments not only during the dry run but beyond Boracay’s formal reopening on October 26.

“We will not hesitate to close hotels and other establishments that would operate without clearance from the BIATF,” Cimatu said.

He also warned tourists who are planning to visit the island to make sure they book their accommodations with compliant hotels and similar establishments, a complete list of which will be released by the Department of Tourism.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is deploying at least 30 environmental enforcers to check on Boracay’s water quality, solid waste management, drainage and sewage systems, and occupation on forest areas and wetlands.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have committed to help maintain peace and order on the island during the dry run leading to the October 26 reopening.

“We are trying to correct the mistakes of the past, and we have succeeded in finding a solution to cleaning the environment. We do not want to backslide on what we have started,” Cimatu said.

The BIATF recently approved a set of guidelines to ensure Boracay’s environment will be sustained and protected from the expected massive influx of local and foreign tourists.

The guidelines include a regulation on tourist arrivals and number of persons allowed to stay in Boracay, in accordance with the island’s carrying capacity.

A study conducted by the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños revealed that the island’s daily carrying capacity is 54,945—19,215 tourists and 35,730 non-tourists, which refer to residents, migrants and stay-in workers.

During the dry run, the BIATF will be implementing a traffic scheme amid ongoing road works on the island. This includes ferrying visitors directly to the Tambisaan port or pontoons set up at different boat stations, and impounding private and public vehicles operating without permit. ### 

Cimatu lifts ECC suspension on ‘complying’ Boracay businesses

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has lifted the suspension on the environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) of some businesses in Boracay, a few weeks before the much-awaited reopening of the world famous resort island.

Cimatu, in his Memorandum Circular 2018-14 dated October 5, gave the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 6 the go signal to lift the suspension on the ECCs issued to “complying” hotels and other establishments on the island.

“In view of the upcoming opening of the Boracay Island on 26 October 2018, after its closure for 6 months, the EMB Regional Office 6 is hereby authorized to lift the suspension of ECCs of all complying hotels and establishments in said island,” Cimatu said in the memo addressed to the regional directors of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and EMB in Western Visayas.

Last July, Cimatu issued a directive suspending the ECCs of all business establishments in Boracay pending a thorough review of their compliance to existing local and national laws.

Memorandum Circular 2018-03, dated July 18, also created a committee composed of representatives from the DENR, EMB, and Mines and Geosciences Bureau to review the compliance of these establishments with their respective ECCs.

In the new memo, Cimatu ordered the committee to continuously monitor all Boracay establishments on their compliance with existing ECCs and environmental management plans.

The DENR chief also directed the committee to submit to him its regular monitoring reports.

“Likewise, the EMB Regional Office 6 shall continue to monitor establishments despite such lifting of suspension of their respective ECCs, and monitor all establishments issued with Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) to ensure their compliance with environmental laws and assure that no violation against the same is committed,” he added.

Under the Environmental Impact Assessment System, ECCs are issued to projects that pose potential risks or impacts on the environment. A project proponent is required to secure an ECC before starting operations.

CNCs, on the other hand, are issued to proposed projects that are unlikely to cause adverse environmental impacts.

The DENR has likewise recently begun to issue Certificates of Conditional Approval (CCAs) to establishments considered to be “90 to 95 per cent compliant” to environmental regulations.

Businesses granted CCAs are those that have fulfilled all DENR-related requirements except that on sewage treatment plants (STPs), which may yet be completed or are still undergoing construction.

The CCA allows establishments to proceed to the Department of Interior and Local Government for assessment of permits, and finally to the Department of Tourism for final accreditation and clearance to operate when the island opens.

Cimatu said the issuance of CCAs was in line with the President’s directive to afford the public the “ease of doing business” with government.

As of October 8, the DENR has issued CCAs to 159 establishments. ### 

More Articles...