Over 200 Boracay establishments fined P43M for environmental violations

The Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has fined 219 business establishments in Boracay a total of P43 million for violation of certain environmental laws.

PAB, a quasi-judicial body charged with adjudicating cases brought by DENR’s regional offices against violators of environmental laws and regulations, slapped the erring establishments with fines ranging from P10,000 to millions of pesos depending on the length of time and gravity of offenses.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu had emphasized continuing vigilance in monitoring of pollution violations and swift adjudication of cases brought before the Board.

DENR Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia, PAB’s presiding officer, said penalty notices had already been sent to the business owners, who are under obligation to pay the fines.

“We at the DENR believe that anyone who pollutes or destroys the environment must pay the cost for that destruction,” Garcia said.

Garcia said only those who settled the penalties will be allowed to process their permits to operate and discharge permits provided they have not committed other violations.

“The DENR, together with other concerned government agencies, is firm in its resolve to clean not only the waters and air of Boracay and to manage its solid waste. It also wants to clear Boracay of irresponsible and greedy business people who have placed care for the environment their least priority,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, the rehabilitation efforts will continue even after Boracay has reopened to tourists. “We will continue to monitor all establishments and impose the necessary penalties should they be found breaking laws,” he pointed out.

Of the 209 establishments fined, 110 were found to have violated Section 1, Rule 19 of RA 8749 which requires permit to operate all sources of air pollution from the EMB. Their imposed fines totaled P1.5 million.

Another 72 establishments were fined a total of P2 million for operating facilities that discharge regulated water pollutants without a valid discharge permit, which is required under Section 27(c) of RA 9275.

Five establishments were fined a sum of P39 million for discharging untreated wastewater and exceedance of effluent standards under the clean water law.

For violating some provisions of both RAs 8749 and 9275, 22 establishments were fined a total of P900,000.

All erring establishments were issued notices of violation by the EMB Region 6 soon after Boracay was closed to tourists in April for a six-month rehabilitation from serious environmental damage.

The PAB is mandated to assess fines and issue cease and desist orders to polluting establishments, and specify compliance with the standards violated. DENR regional offices are responsible for implementing PAB’s orders. ### 

Enforce solid waste management law during Undas, Cimatu tells LGUs

As millions of Filipinos prepare for the annual commemoration of Undas, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu reminded local government units (LGUs) of their duty to enforce the country’s solid waste management law in memorial parks and public cemeteries nationwide.

Cimatu said LGUs need to step up their implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 as people continue to generate huge volume of garbage during the observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, practically turning graveyards into dumpsites.

If necessary, Cimatu said LGUs may apply the full force of the law against litterbugs if only to send strong message that littering would not be tolerated.

“LGUs should not hesitate penalizing litterbugs by imposing fines or making them render community service,” Cimatu suggested.

An estimated 30,000 tons of garbage is generated in the country every day, with 8,000 tons produced in Metro Manila alone. The volume shoots up during public events like Undas.

Last year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reported that more than 5,000 tons of trash were hauled just from six major public cemeteries and memorial parks in the metropolis.

Cimatu said he hopes this will not be repeated this year and that the public will “avoid generating waste, especially plastic that end up in landfills where it may take up to 1,000 years to decompose.”

RA 9003 provides that the LGUs are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal.

During Undas, Cimatu said the LGUs should reduce the amount of trash gathered from graveyards and minimize waste that go into landfills.

However, Cimatu said the general public must also do its share in keeping graveyards clean and free of trash.

He then appealed to those who will pay homage to their departed loved ones to make the observance of Undas more meaningful by keeping memorial parks and public cemeteries “waste-free.”

Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will never get tired of reminding the public about proper waste disposal “until the time comes when all of us who troop to cemeteries during Undas show respect for both the living and the dead.”

“Let us respect the sanctity of both the occasion and the final resting place of our departed loved ones by making the surroundings free from unwanted garbage,” Cimatu pointed out.

Meanwhile, Cimatu urged everyone to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle during Undas.

He called on visitors at cemeteries to “reuse, reduce and recycle.”

“Have your vehicles regularly checked for cleaner emissions. Avoid traffic hours and known congested roads, if possible. Walk or ride a bike, even for just part of the way to your destination,” he added. ### 

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