Boracay rehabilitation: A dawn of ‘radical reforms’ in local governance to protect natural resources

The ongoing rehabilitation in Boracay Island is the beginning of the radical reforms which President Rodrigo Roa Duterte intends to impose, as part of his administration’s campaign to protect and preserve the environment and natural resources.

“Environmental protection and ensuring the health of our people cannot be overemphasized; thus, our actions in Boracay mark the beginning of a new national effort,” President Duterte said during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The President reiterated his commitment not to allow the deterioration not only of the famous beach destination, but other tourist spots in the country as well.

“I could not allow this decay to continue; decisive action has long been overdue. Recognizing that we are mere stewards of our natural resources, and I said enough is enough,” President Duterte said.

“We intend to restore its environmental integrity, alongside measures to alleviate those whose livelihood was momentarily affected,” President Duterte said.

President Duterte said Boracay Island, which he once described as ‘cesspool,’ has sadly become the representation of the government’s negligence “including mine”. He encouraged local government units to proactively enforce all environmental laws “and not wait for us to swoop down on your areas just to do your duty and work”.

“For the other tourist destinations needing urgent rehabilitation and enforcement of environmental and other laws shall soon follow,” President Duterte said.

President Duterte said what is being done to Boracay is also an indication of the long-overdue need for holistic and sustainable utilization, management and developing of the country’s lands.

In this regard, President Duterte urged the Senate to urgently pass the National Land Use Act “to put in place a national land use policy that will address our competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses, and environmental conservation”.

He warned “irresponsible miners” to stop destroying the country’s rich natural resources particularly watersheds, forests and aquatic resources

“To the mining industry, I say this once again and maybe for the last time, do not destroy the environment or compromise our resources; repair what you have mismanaged,” President Duterte said.

“Extracted resources must be used for the benefit of the Filipino people, not just a select few. Do not just give me taxes. I can get it from other sources. Give me what needs to be given to my countrymen,” President Duterte said.

Banning open pit mining

President Duterte reiterated his plans to impose “restrictive policies” including the prohibition of open pit mining.

“It is destroying my country. It is destroying the environment. It will destroy the world of tomorrow for our children,” President Duterte said.

“Expect reforms, radical ones. I cannot intend to quarrel with anybody, with the moneyed, but for as long as I am here I said: you will just have to contend with me,” President Duterte said.

President Duterte urged all concerned agencies and local government units to uphold the concept of inter-generational responsibility in the exploration and utilization of the country’s natural resources and wealth.