Firms, resorts told to clean up their acts

LIFE IN THESE ISLANDS. Some 337 beach resorts in Central Visayas need to install or improve their wastewater treatment facilities so the region’s shores can remain pristime and fishermen can continue to haul in their daily catch. (SunStar foto / Alex Badayos)


THE Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 has informed 394 business firms in Region 7 that they are violating the Clean Water Act because they don’t have a wastewater treatment facility.


As of Saturday, Nov. 9, 252 firms were issued a notice of violation with technical conference, while 142 firms were issued a directive to comply. The EMB 7 also issued a notice of violation to 337 beach resorts.


The bulk of the violators are found in Cebu. The EMB 7, though, refused to name specific areas where they are located, as it awaits a final decision on the matter.


“We initially invited them for a technical conference wherein they were apprised of the acts constituting the violation. There, they were given the opportunity to present justifications or any documentary evidence to refute our findings,” said EMB 7 Director William Cuñado.


He said Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2016-08 provides water quality and general effluent standards, and specifies the parameters that must be observed by various industries.


He said the wastewater of establishments that do not have treatment facilities ends up in the drainage system and eventually flows out to the sea.


Cuñado said they have endorsed 13 cases to the Pollution Adjudication Board for violations of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act between 2016 and 2018.


Cuñado said their office does not prescribe to a specific wastewater treatment facility. It is up to the firms to decide which measures to take as long as the end result is the wastewater meets water quality standards, he said.


A firm or a resort that has received a notice of violation and has been invited for a technical conference has 90 days to build or improve an existing wastewater treatment facility.


“This has been the standard operating procedure of our office as a manifestation of due process,” Cuñado said.


Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) warned establishments to follow environmental laws and ordinances or else they will be closed.


The agency already started its evaluation on the condition of popular tourist destinations like Mactan in Cebu and Panglao in Bohol.


DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat, during the Ocean 18 Summit last Friday, Nov. 9, reiterated the call for local government units (LGUs) to implement environmental laws.


“We are not saying we will close it (Mactan), but what we will do is we will close those establishments that do not follow the law,” she told SunStar Cebu.


However, Puyat noted that management of beaches and resorts in Mactan are already policing themselves.


“The reopening of Boracay is not the culmination of our journey for sustainable tourism, it’s actually just the beginning. We assure you that our actions in Boracay will be replicated in all other tourist destinations in rehabilitation. We will enjoin concerned government agencies and LGUs to strictly enforce environmental laws and we already started evaluating the situation of El Nido (in Palawan); La Union; Coron (in Palawan); Panglao, Bohol; and also in Mactan (Cebu),” she said. (With JOB)