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The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) – led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – has culminated the rehabilitation and management of Boracay Island four years after the massive rehabilitation of the famous tourist destination.

“This culmination means the responsibility will now be with the local government of Malay. Alagaan niyo ito, tulad ng pag-aalaga namin,” DENR Acting Secretary and BIATF chair Jim O. Sampulna said during the culminating activity on June 16.

“The challenge here is how you can maintain Boracay’s cleanliness and sanitation, including the discipline of the people,” Sampulna told the local officials led by Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and Malay Mayor Frolibar Bautista.

The BIATF, vice-chaired by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), was created by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order (EO) 53 on May 8, 2018.

Its term was supposed to end in 2020, two years after its creation, but President Duterte extended its tenure until May 8, 2021, with the issuance of EO 115 on May 11, 2020.

On Sept. 14, 2021, the BIATF’s term was extended again until June 30, 2022, through EO 148, to give it more time to complete all its projects.

Sampulna assured the local officials that although the BIATF would no longer be at the frontline, the task force would continue to assist them to sustain the gains of the Boracay rehabilitation.

“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, we will be there to assist you. Tutulungan namin kayong patuloy na i-nurture ang Boracay,” Sampulna said.

He pointed out that the DENR, through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), plans to establish a real-time monitoring system on the four-kilometer white beach of Boracay to make sure that the cleanliness of the island’s waters will be maintained.

It will be modelled after the Environmental Quality Data Center at the EMB executive building in Quezon City that was launched last month.

The data center provides real-time monitoring of air and water quality, including the status of solid and hazardous waste management, facilities with environmental compliance certificates or ECCs, and online permitting system. ###

Four years after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte ordered the closure and massive rehabilitation of Boracay Island, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna announced the successful rehabilitation efforts for the famous tourist destination.

“Mission accomplished, Mr. President,” Sampulna declared in the culmination of the rehabilitation and management of the island by the DENR-led Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF)

President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay Island in 2018 after declaring it a “cesspool” due to uncontrolled development and overcrowding over the years.

The BIATF, formed on May 8, 2018, through Executive Order (EO) 53, was tasked with supervising Boracay’s rehabilitation.

Co-chaired by the Department of Tourism and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the term of BIATF was extended until May 8, 2021 through EO 115.

Its tenure was extended again until June 30, 2022, through EO 148, to give it time to complete its projects.

“Because of the series of EOs by President Duterte, and through the leadership of former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, naging malinis muli ang Boracay,” said Sampulna, noting that Cimatu’s hardwork kept the BIATF’s spirit to carry on with the colossal task.

He added: “Direct draining of sewage into the sea, unorganized solid waste management, and building of hotels and establishments near the beach and roads are some problems that the task force worked on.”

Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Martin Jose Despi said it was no easy task, but was proud of what the collective efforts of the BIATF, local government units, attached agencies, stakeholders, and the people have achieved over the past four years.

“It’s not just about reviving the island. We are also showing the world what Filipinos are capable of and it’s something that we should be really proud of. I don’t think that there is any rehabilitation program in the history of our country that would match what we have done in Boracay,” he said.

 

Under the enforcement of laws and regulations, about 300 structures at the beachfront were cleared to follow the 25+5 meter beach easement rule.

Over 1,000 structures that have been demolished for the widening and improvement of the Boracay Circumferential Road have already complied with the 12-meter road easement with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Meanwhile, 21 sampling stations were established, and are regularly monitoring the water quality on the island.

The highest fecal coliform level recorded in the last two to five months was 33 most probable number per 100 milliliters, which is within the standard water quality level.

With the help of the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), it deployed a ground penetrating radar that detects underground irregularities.

Through the use of the radar, DENR-MGB discovered 44 big pipes from establishments that directly discharge wastewater to the beachfront.

Since then, over 100 sewage treatment plants were established among hotels and business establishments, while others are now connected to the sewer line.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority helped to fix pumping stations on the island to avoid any major flooding in the future.

BIATF, together with the municipality of Malay, has also implemented a zero-waste policy by establishing collection points and schedules for the efficient management of solid waste on Boracay Island.

Under the rehabilitation program, five of the nine wetlands were adopted by different private companies, namely Wetland No. 2 adopted by Energy Development Corporation; Wetland No. 3 adopted by San Miguel Corporation; Wetland No. 4 adopted by Aboitiz Equities Ventures; Wetland No. 6 adopted by Boracay Tubi Systems Incorporated; and Wetland No. 8 adopted by JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation.

BIATF also assigned a place for water and other recreational sports to protect and conserve Boracay’s coastal and marine resources. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has expressed confidence that the Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, will take a more prominent presence in the global climate stage under the incoming Marcos administration.

Sampulna said the next administration is fortunate enough that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has jumpstarted the country’s climate momentum.

To sustain the work towards a more climate-resilient Philippines, the DENR chief urged the incoming administration to build on the achievements of the outgoing Duterte government.

He noted that the interest shown by President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on climate change gives a foresight as to how his administration would carry on the gains of the Duterte government on strengthening the country’s position on sustainable and renewable energy.

“The development and promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficient technologies must be high in the development agenda, not only to address the problem of high power costs, but as one way the country could move forward to address climate change and global warming,” Sampulna said.

“President-elect Marcos’ optimism is best articulated in the disclosure of Ambassador Ibrahim who, after his visit, told reporters that the incoming chief executive would work hard in response to his invitation to attend the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which will be held in Egypt in November,” he said.

Sampulna noted that the Philippines has been a leading voice in the global community on climate justice for access and technical support for initiatives of developing countries, especially those at most risk to climate change.

“President Duterte leaves a better, cleaner, more sustainable Philippines. I see a more profoundly improved Philippines in the next six years,” Sampulna said.

In 2021, the Department of Finance (DOF) reported that climate-related hazards cost P506.1 billion in economic losses over the last decade.

During the COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, as head of the Philippine delegation, has called on developed countries to set aside funds to help developing countries, like the Philippines, shift to clean energy.

Further, the DOF established the Sustainable Climate Finance Roadmap (SCFR) which serves as the country’s blueprint to address policy and regulatory gaps in promoting sustainable investments through finance, and facilitate investments in public infrastructure and development projects that promote sustainable financing in the Philippines.

In 2020, the DOE imposed a moratorium on new coal power plants, as it would no longer accept new endorsement applications for the construction of greenfield coal power plants, which refer to power facilities that are yet to be constructed.

Continuing on the pathway the Duterte administration has drawn, a low carbon, sustainable, and climate-disaster resilient development is not far off, as the DENR pushes for the implementation of the country's commitment to the Paris Agreement to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, as well as efforts toward a water resilient and secure Philippines.

The move forms part of the Duterte administration’s agenda to propel the country’s strides towards a resilient and green economic recovery marked with a sustainable power system that would accommodate the entry of new, cleaner, and indigenous power sources. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has highlighted the significance of East Asia regional cooperation on ocean conservation to help solve the cross-cutting challenges of conservation and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources in the region, especially in the Philippines.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna expressed optimism in the strategy as several seas in the country are linked by transboundary ocean management.

“Our major programs, such as the Manila Bay Rehabilitation, are directly linked to ocean-based adaptation solutions that are considered in the Philippines’ climate change pledge to the Paris Agreement and to help bolster the country’s Blue Economy,” Sampulna said.

Through the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the DENR also implements the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program, which has been identified as one of the adaptation measures in the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions in the Paris Agreement.

The strategy was highlighted in the Way Forward part of the report as presented by DENR Climate Change Service Director Elenida dR. Basug during a recent webinar hosted by the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).

“The PEMSEA Resource Facility can provide the required technical support and can strengthen inclusive and action-oriented regional platforms,” Basug said.

She added: “The regional cooperation measures will improve the quality of life of average Filipinos, particularly in the implementation of adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies in our coastal populations, providing sustainable and biodiversity-friendly livelihood options, and ensuring food security for coastal communities.”

“When strategies and programs are implemented accordingly, the drivers and threats of climate change in the coastal and marine ecosystems will be reduced. We will achieve the sustainability of our ecosystem services,” she pointed out.

The role of East Asia regional cooperation in the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources was further discussed during the webinar, “Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue: East Asian Seas’ Response to the Global Climate Change Challenge.”

It aims to dive deep into the links between the ocean and climate change nexus in the East Asian Seas region. The activity is also in line with this year’s celebration of the World Oceans Day.

The results of the discussion are expected to shape the development of the 2023-2027 Implementation Plan of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia. ###

In celebration of the World Ocean Day 2022, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)—has signed a landmark agreement with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to address gaps in protection and conservation of the country’s coastal and marine ecosystems.

With the theme “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean,” the World Ocean Day celebration was highlighted by the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing on June 8 led by DENR-BMB OIC Director Natividad Y. Bernardino and PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio M. Abu.

“Working hand in hand with PCG will strengthen our capacity to protect our ocean and marine ecosystems moving forward. With alarming threats the ocean faces today, we need collective action to protect it as it ultimately sustains all of us,” DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said in a statement.

The monumental partnership aims to harmonize the conservation and protection efforts between the DENR-BMB and PCG, particularly in deterring illegal activities within marine protected areas (MPAs) and maintaining the balance and ecological integrity of the country’s marine ecosystems.

“As a bureau supervising marine protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS, we have certain limitations in terms of enforcement and logistics. There are gaps in addressing marine-related incidences and violations of the law. So there’s really a need to synergize protocols between the PCG and the BMB as well as collaborate to augment each other’s resources,” Bernardino pointed out.

Moreover, PCG Deputy Chief of Coastal Guard Staff for Marine Environmental Protection CG-9 Captain Lazaro Ernesto C. Valdez Jr. hopes that the MOA signing is only just the beginning of a clearer and more cohesive cooperation with the DENR.

The MOA establishes the exchange of technical expertise, information, and assistance on the demarcation and marker buoy installation of MPAs under the NIPAS framework; facilitation of capacity-building activities; and development of reporting mechanisms on marine vessel-related incidents, such as oil spills and ship grounding.

“Enforcement must be participatory, consultative, science-based, and sustainable. We will be committed. You can count on our sincerity and active involvement in putting this agreement to motion,” Abu said.

The partnership will also streamline joint activities and assistance during water quality monitoring; enforcement of wildlife laws; and marine research expeditions within MPAs, West Philippine Sea, and the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve.

Joint marine protection activities, such as coastal and underwater cleanups and intensified communication, education and public awareness activities, will also be implemented.

To begin the partnership, Bernardino said that the DENR-BMB will craft the operational plan anchored on the stipulations of the MOA to identify the short-term and long-term goals and activities, and ensure the funding complementation between the two agencies.###