Cimatu advises LGUs to detect, fix early signs of environmental damage

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged local government units (LGUs) across the country to be on the lookout for warning signs of environmental degradation and take steps to prevent them from getting worse by fixing them right away.

By doing this, he said, LGUs especially those who have jurisdiction over island destinations would prevent a situation similar to what is happening to Boracay, which had to be temporarily closed down in order for national government to fix its environmental problems associated with overdevelopment.

“If you are aware of the issue on Boracay, owing to the cumulative effect of rapid development, the influx of people beyond the island’s carrying capacity, and the poor implementation of environmental laws, particularly the Clean Water Act, and the illegal encroachment on easement areas and forestlands, Boracay’s unique and unspoiled condition has since deteriorated,” Cimatu said when he graced the Rodeo Masbateno Festival in Masbate province recently.

Cimatu has been tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to clean up Boracay, which the latter described as a “cesspool” due to sustained environmental damage.

“I would like to let you know that I am determined to fully implement the President’s order,” Cimatu assured.

He reported that around 100 DENR personnel, 12 of them from Bicol Region, are in Boracay to determine any illegal discharge of untreated wastewater into the sea and encroachment into foreslands and wetlands, including illegal constructions within easement areas.

“In sum, around 100 DENR personnel are there to keep up with our mandate—to preserve and protect our environment. We will save Boracay,” Cimatu said.

Addressing Masbate local officials led by Governor Antonio Kho, Cimatu cited the vital role the LGUs play in ensuring environmental protection through strict enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

“It gives me great motivation that the LGU of Masbate and the DENR are in sync with our goals for environmental protection. We are the caretakers of this land and we are tasked to ensure that the fruits that we are enjoying today will still be experienced by the generations to come,” Cimatu said.

Just like the old Boracay, Masbate is blessed with abundant marine and forest resources. Aside from the telltsle cowboys who tame the herd, the island province boasts of scenic destinations, wonderful culture, rich history and vast cattle ranches bounded by rugged and mountainous terrains and surrounded by infinite seawaters.

The province has five protected areas, including the Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary and the Ticao Island whose surrounding waters teeming with planktons play host to huge manta rays and whale sharks.
“These protected areas possess boundless potentials as ecotourism destinations. As such, protection and conservation of these areas must take its toll,” Cimatu said.
Moreover, some 11 existing Forestland Grazing Management Agreement (FLGMA) has been granted by the DENR to persons, associations and corporations in Masbate. FLGMA is a production sharing agreement between the DENR and the grantees to develop, manage and utilize grazing lands as provided. ###