Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu assured the public that there will be no letup in the government effort to strictly enforce environmental laws and regulations designed to restore, preserve and protect the country’s rich environment and vast natural resources.
“We will prioritize the environment. We will strengthen our Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in the provincial level which job is to take care of the environment,” Cimatu told DENR national and regional officials during their management conference held in Batanes recently.
Cimatu said the Boracay problem should serve as a lesson not just for local government officials but also for those in the DENR who must be proactive in handling environmental concerns.
The Secretary plans to put up a DENR office, just like what he did in Boracay, in every tourist destination in the country.
Even before Boracay was closed to tourists to pave the way for its rehabilitation, Cimatu already ordered the re-establishment of a Community Environment and Natural Resources Office there to ensure the sustainability of environmental programs intended solely for the world-famous island paradise.
Cimatu said he won’t recommend the reopening of Boracay until the fecal coliform contamination is addressed.
“The ball is in our hands. We have to bring down the coliform. This is non-negotiable,” Cimatu said, as he announced the deployment of some DENR and EMB regional directors to the island to solve the problem in a month.
The DENR chief also directed all his field officials to prioritize the cleanup of water bodies within their jurisdiction.
“I am very particular on the cleanliness of our rivers,” Cimatu said, as he warned them of his one-strike policy for non-compliance.
Apart from strict enforcement of environmental laws, Cimatu reminded all DENR field officials of their duty to ensure the protection and conservation of natural resources, particularly the forests.
Cimatu ordered them to ensure the cooperation and support of the local government in their respective areas of jurisdiction in the DENR’s forest protection and anti-illegal logging campaign.
Cimatu said that regional offices will not get commendation for “hot logs” they have confiscated, but for their effort to prevent trees from being cut.
Cimatu urged all other field officials to follow the example of Batanes, which has become a good model for protecting the environment.
Batanes is the only province in the country, which has been declared as a protected area in its entirety.