Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has committed to be more aggressive in the enforcement of environmental laws this year to sustain the momentum after the Boracay Island rehabilitation.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who considers the six month rehabilitation of the famous tourist destination as the “centerpiece of 2018 accomplishments” of the DENR, aims to achieve more this year.
“I hope to send a strong message to environmental offenders and to the public of our seriousness in implementing and enforcing environmental laws, rules and regulations,” Cimatu said.
He added that Boracay’s success has spawned demands for replication, prompting the DENR to have the rehabilitation of Manila Bay as its “next big target.” This might prove to be a steeper challenge as the water quality in the bay has not improved despite a Supreme Court mandamus for its cleanup issued a decade ago.
Cimatu warns the DENR will be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws, particularly against the discharge of untreated wastewater into bodies of water like the Manila Bay. He is inspired by the agency’s performance when it was tested by the Boracay rehabilitation and it is hoped that the country’s environment agency will be even more effective this year.
Towns, cities, industries and tourist attractions all over the country have gotten away with numerous serious offenses against the environment in recent years. The closure and rehabilitation of Boracay Island is a drastic and grim reminder of what government sometimes needs do to protect the environment. Those who do not want to be shut down arbitrarily and rehabilitated haphazardly should shape up when it comes to compliance with the many environmental laws that have been conveniently ignored for decades because a DENR that has been empowered by the Boracay example can and will do more to enforce those laws this time.
We can develop this country without endangering or destroying our environment. The knowledge that the DENR has proven that it can aggressively enforce the laws meant to protect our environment will hopefully spur LGUs and businesses to ensure those laws are followed from now on.*