Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano enjoined the local government of Malay, Aklan which has jurisdiction over Boracay Island to cooperate with the investigation being conducted by the DILG and DENR after President Duterte’s warning to close Boracay if it is not cleaned up within six months.
"The Local Government is accountable for the crisis faced by Boracay. They should have enforced environmental laws as well as their own local ordinances,” said Ano.
“The presence of commercial establishments even beyond the prescribed distance from the coastline would not be possible without building and construction permits issued by the LGU. It is their lookout,” he pointed out.
The DILG chief said that their investigation will look into the possible liability of local government officials who issued building permits, occupancy permits and even business permits despite non-compliance with applicable laws and issuances.
"Why did the LGU allow establishments to be built in areas classified as forest lands? Why did the Barangay issue the necessary clearances? This we intend to find out and soon," said Ano.
He said that the President's threat to file charges against the local government for serious neglect of duty "is a much-needed wakeup call” to both the LGU and business establishments who share the responsibility of preserving the top tourism destination of the country.
The DILG Chief said that they will file appropriate administrative and criminal charges against government officials based on the results of the on-going investigation. "We are expediting this and we will go where the evidence brings us," he added.
He said that the DILG is working closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and their Western Visayas regional offices and the concerned LGU, including barangays, to address the environmental problems in Boracay.
“Aside from local government officials, concerned stakeholders in this issue like the residents and business owners will be consulted and involved in responding to the problems. A drastic action requires collective effort,” he said.
Ano said that while the attention now is on Boracay island, other LGUs across the country should now "shape up without waiting to be rebuked.”
“Kailangan pa bang masita bago umayos? Kailangan pa ba ng ultimatum galing pa sa Pangulo bago umaksiyon? The gradual ruin of our environment is already being felt as calamities devastate the country many times in a year,” he said.
The DENR announced that erring establishments in Boracay which release untreated wastewater and sewage into the waters are given two months to either connect to the sewage treatment plant of Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC) or install their own wastewater treatment facilities in compliance with environmental laws.