June 19, 2018, 4:33 pm
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Boracay’s main polluter is gov’t

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy Cimatu was aghast to discover that one of the gravest polluters on Boracay island, causing the formation of algae and other natural organisms that destroy the beauty of this prime tourist destination, is the government. In an inspection, Cimatu saw with his own eyes that the island’s sewerage system, constructed under supervision by the former Philippine Tourism Authority, now TIEZA, under then General Manager Mark Lapid, violated environmental regulations, specifically the 30-meter easement rule. The sewerage pipe runs the length of 4 kilometers parallel to the main beach, from Angol Road in Manoc-Manoc at the southern end to Station 1 in Balabad, the northern part of the island. Overflows from the drainage pipe through the manholes contaminated the waters and contributed to the proliferation of algal bloom. The DENR secretary said he was surprised, but he should have rightfully felt anger, for this is another confirmation that our tourism officials, past and present, were mostly incompetent political appointees. Worse, some of them like Mrs. Wanda Tulfo-Teo and actor Cesar Montano are conveniently using the cloak of incompetence--theirs and their staff’s-- to hide corruption. The reality is that millions of pesos in public money is being maximally drained with minimal returns for the nation, sometimes before projects are even started. Not only the government, or more specifically, government officials are guilty of turning Boracay into a cesspool as President Duterte said. Cimatu validated that private owners of resorts and other business establishments are also perennial violators. If Cimatu will care to find out, however, he most probably discover that the big owners and operators of these resorts are past and present government officials, too -- both local and national. The Supreme Court ruled that the whole island of Boracay is government property, so that it behooves key officials like Cimatu to know how on earth these officials and businessmen happen to hold titles and rights to pieces of land they claim on the island. As the task force composed of agencies directed by the President to clean and rehabilitate Boracay continues to uncover how the cesspool came to be, it has become clear that Duterte’s decision to close the beaches for maintenance and rehabilitation is necessary.
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