Severe penalties await establishments that own the newly discovered underground sewers and pipelines illegally discharging into the waters of Boracay, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu warned on Wednesday.

Cimatu said the erring establishments will be penalized accordingly once the sources of the illegal connections have been traced and verified.

“We will not hesitate to file appropriate charges against these erring establishments and base these charges on all the violations we can possibly identify against them, with maximum penalty, for contributing to the deterioration of Boracay,” Cimatu said.

According to the environment chief, owners of the illegal pipelines could be held liable for violating Republic Act No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

Under the law, any person who commits any of the “prohibited acts” or violates any of its provisions could be fined by the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), upon the recommendation of the Pollution Adjudication Board, in the amount of not more than P200,000 for every day of violation, starting from the day the pipelines were installed.

Depending on the gravity of the offense, the DENR Secretary could issue a closure order against the owner of the establishment. Blatant disregard of such orders and penalties could lead to the filing of criminal charges against violators.

Last May 25, the DENR—together with representatives from the Aklan provincial government and 100 soldier trainees from the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army— excavated 26 illegal pipes along Boracay’s world-famous white sand beach.

The 26 pipes were located in and around 16 establishments along the beach. Some of the source establishments have been confirmed, while others are for further investigation.

Two establishments have been issued notices of violation after water sampling by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) confirmed they were discharging untreated wastewater. These are the Dive Gurus (two pipes), and Sand Bar (two pipes).

Some pipes were traced to the following establishments: Water Colors (one pipe); Hoy Panga (three pipes); La Fiesta (one pipe); and Manana Mexican Cuisine (one pipe).

Other pipes were discovered at the following locations: two pipes in front of Dive Gurus; one before the sewer manhole at Ocean Club/Jungco Corporation; one pipe at Bamboo Bungalow; one pipe leading to the beach in between Blue Waves Beach House and Discovery Shores; and two at Ambassador in Paradise; one pipe at the boundary of Hennan Prime and La Brisas de Boracay.

The sources of the following pipes are still to be traced: one pipe in front of the tiangge area; one down spout connected to the culver and two pipes leading to the beach at Hennan Regency; three pipes in front of Li Shui Chinese Restaurant; and one pipe in front of The Lindt. ###