AT least 209 business establishments in Boracay have been fined a total of P43-million for violation of certain environmental laws.
This was disclosed yesterday by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu even as he vowed a continued vigilance in monitoring of pollution violations and swift adjudication of cases brought before the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB).
The PAB, a quasi-judicial body charged with adjudicating cases brought by DENR’s regional offices against violators of environmental laws and regulations, slapped the erring establishments with fines ranging from P10,000 to millions of pesos depending on the length of time and gravity of offenses.
DENR Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia, PAB’s presiding officer, on the other hand, said penalty notices had already been sent to the business owners, who are under obligation to pay the fines.
“We at the DENR believe that anyone who pollutes or destroys the environment must pay the cost for that destruction,” Garcia said.
Garcia said only those who settled the penalties will be allowed to process their permits to operate and discharge permits provided they have not committed other violations.
“The DENR, together with other concerned government agencies, is firm in its resolve to clean not only the waters and air of Boracay and to manage its solid waste. It also wants to clear Boracay of irresponsible and greedy business people who have placed care for the environment their least priority,” he added.
Garcia disclosed that the rehabilitation efforts will continue even after Boracay has reopened to tourists. “We will continue to monitor all establishments and impose the necessary penalties should they be found breaking laws,” he pointed out.
Of the 209 establishments fined, 110 were found to have violated Section 1, Rule 19 of RA 8749 which requires permit to operate all sources of air pollution from the EMB. Their imposed fines totaled P1.5 million.
Another 72 establishments were fined a total of P2 million for operating facilities that discharge regulated water pollutants without a valid discharge permit, which is required under Section 27(c) of RA 9275.
Five establishments were fined a sum of P39 million for discharging untreated wastewater and exceedance of effluent standards under the clean water law.
For violating some provisions of both RAs 8749 and 9275, 22 establishments were fined a total of P900,000.
The EMB Region 6 issued notices of violation against all erring establishments soon after Boracay was closed to tourists in April for a six-month rehabilitation from serious environmental damage.
The PAB is mandated to assess fines and issue cease and desist orders to polluting establishments, and specify compliance with the standards violated. DENR regional offices are responsible for implementing PAB’s orders.