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DENR tightens environmental watch

It is gratifying indeed that Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez has integrated sound coastal management into a multi-sectoral governance approach to ensure the sustainability of the country’s coastal and maritime assets, including and particularly Boracay island, the Philippines’ foremost tourist destination.

Known in the tourism world as “the Island Paradise in the Pacific,” Boracay draws over 1.6 million tourists yearly.

Niven Maquirang, administrator of the Caticlan Jetty Port, the gateway to Boracay, some 20 minutes away by motorboat, said they expect more tourist ships to arrive in Caticlan next year. Starting January 28, he said they expect several ships, crewed by some 700 to ferry over 2,000 tourists.

Maquirang mentioned several notable tourists ships with scheduled trips to Caticlan to ferry foreign tourists to Boracay. Among them are the MZ Europa on February 15 with 500 tourists and 300 crews, and the Seven Seas Voyage and the Crystal Symphony cruise ships that are scheduled to arrive on February 29. These ships and more others are expected to ferry foreign tourists to Boracay subsequently, for which reason, they are now upgrading and expanding the capacity of the Caticlan Jetty Port which now helps generate economic activities not only for Aklan but for the entire country.

Under Secretary Gina Lopez, a noted environmentalist, DENR has fielded its indefatigable Undersecretary Art Valdez to implement and ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations by various players and stakeholders. This strategic move is considered vital for Boracay and neighboring areas whose eco-systems are besset by problems and challenges.

No less than Mayor Ceciron Cawaling of Malay, Aklan to which Boracay belongs, said “keeping the island paradise a world-class asset is a herculean job.” Boracay’s eco-system is under threats from pollution, congestion, over exploitation and destruction of its natural assets including catch basins and wet lands, sewerage, water and electric power supplies.

At the signing of the Multipartite Memorandum of Agreement on the Operation and Maintenance of the Boracay Island Drainage System (Phase I) last Monday held at the Hennan Regency Resort, DENR USec. Valdez hailed the efforts of varies agencies and institutions to improve the conditions of the island. He urged them to unite in upholding shared responsibility in protecting the environment of the nation’s precious asset and assured them DENR will crack down on violators. (Johnny Dayang)

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