Cimatu deploys 'mission team' to rehabilitate Boracay

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has deployed a "mission team" that will address the environmental problems in Boracay island.

In a statement on Tuesday, February 20, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the team tasked to rehabilitate and restore Boracay will be composed of 50 personnel from 6 DENR regional offices.

Cimatu said Boracay will be divided into 6 areas, and each of the 6 regions will be assigned an area to work on.

"We will be using all our government and the DENR assets and personnel to do this job. Those who will be deployed will be on a rotation basis," Cimatu said, saying there's already DENR presence in Boracay since Monday, February 19.

The environment secretary said each bureau of the department will also contribute personnel to "augment" their contingent in Boracay.

Metodio Turbella, director of the DENR's Environmental Management Bureau, is already in Boracay to assist the department's Western Visayas regional director Jim Sampulna. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, who described Boracay as a "cesspool," gave Cimatu only 6 months to address the environmental problems in the famous island.

Cimatu earlier said business establishments releasing untreated wastewater and sewage into the waters around Boracay only have two months to "shape up," or else they will face closure.

"I say again, we should not fail, not only the President, we should not fail our people, Cimatu reportedly told DENR employees.

At least 51 establishments in Boracay suspected of either causing pollution or flooding were already issued notices of violation.

On Tuesday, during his speech at the 2nd Philippine Environment Summit in Cebu City, Cimatu said another group of more than 100 DENR personnel will go to Boracay on Thursday, February 22, to "conduct a thorough sweep of establishments in Boracay."

Cimatu also cited the statistics below in his speech, based on initial findings of DENR teams on the ground:

"There will be about 12 teams totalling over 100 people which will be going there to uncover the violators. We expect the number of cases that will be brought before the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) to increase. The PAB will decide the closure and imposition of penalties on these errant establishments," Cimatu added. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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