LGUs urged to act vs. environmental decay

By Catherine Teves

Aerial view of Boracay Island prior to closure and rehabilitation (File Photo)
Aerial view of Boracay Island prior to closure and rehabilitation (File Photo)
President Rodrigo Duterte called on local government units (LGUs) nationwide to prevent environmental degradation in their areas like what happened to top tourist destination Boracay Island in Aklan province.

“I urge LGUs to pro-actively enforce our laws and not wait for us to swoop down on your areas just to do your duty and work,” the President said in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

He raised the challenge among the LGUs, citing that the environmental degradation in Boracay reflects the government’s negligence in law enforcement in the locality.

The environment provides water, food, and other necessities people need to survive, so enforcing laws protecting this is essential, he stressed.

“Environmental protection and ensuring needs of the people can’t be over-emphasized,” he said.

The government has closed down Boracay Island for six months beginning April 26 this year to hasten the cleanup and rehabilitation work in the world-famous Philippine beach resort.

The closure aims to save Boracay from further environmental degradation.

Pollution, encroachment in forestland, and loss of habitats are among the environmental problems hounding Boracay amid continuing population growth and increasing economic activities, authorities have noted.

“I could not allow such decay to continue,” Duterte pointed out in his SONA, explaining why he ordered the closure, cleanup, and rehabilitation in Boracay.

Authorities said rehabilitation work in the island had so far improved water quality in the area.

Those thought to be responsible for Boracay’s environmental mess are now also being pinned down by the government.

“Activities in Boracay mark the beginning of a new national effort,” Duterte said, adding he wants other tourist destinations in the country also saved from environmental degradation.

“Other tourist destinations needing urgent rehabilitation and enforcement of environmental and other laws shall soon follow,” he assured, highlighting the LGUs’ role in the undertaking.

Palawan province’s El Nido is among the country’s tourist spots, where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) plans to implement policies that would help minimize tourism’s negative impacts.

As for Boracay, the DENR has started studying the implementation of a carrying capacity limit suitable for the island.

The limit will set the extent of allowable development and tourist influx in the area. (PNA)