THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources has promised to be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws and regulations this year as it warned offenders to make sure they abide by the rules.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu said this is to sustain the momentum created by the much-lauded rehabilitation of the once “cesspool” Boracay Island and other accomplishments of the agency in previous years.
After a successful six-month task in making Boracay back as one of the best beaches in the world, Cimatu is looking forward to duplicating the feat in other top tourist destinations such as the places of El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Panglao Island in Bohol and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.
“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 during the traditional New Year’s Call held at the DENR central office in Quezon City.
The New Year’s Call was a gathering of DENR officials and employees to announce the policy direction for the agency and set the priority programs and projects to be implemented for this year.
The Boracay rehabilitation was described by Cimatu as the “centerpiece of our 2018 accomplishments.”
“With the eyes of the world upon us, we set forth to do what cynics thought was impossible: to transform a cesspool back to being one of the world’s best beaches and swimming destinations, within a period of only 6 months,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu pointed out that Boracay’s success had spawned demands for replication to Manila Bay which the DENR considered as its “next big target.”
He said the Manila Bay rehabilitation called for a change in approach considering that its water quality has not improved despite a Supreme Court mandamus for its cleanup issued a decade ago.
“We are putting up a Manila Bay command center, we will get the local government units more involved, and we will be more aggressive in enforcing environmental laws, particularly against the discharge of untreated wastewater into the bay,” Cimatu added.
Apart from the Boracay rehabilitation, Cimatu said the DENR, through the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), was also successful in enforcing the Clean Water Act in 2018.