DILG to file raps vs Boracay local government officials


DILG to file raps vs Boracay local government officials
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The world-famous Boracay island would be shut down to “heal itself” starting April 16, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

The DILG said administrative complaints are being prepared against local officials led by Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores for neglect of duty in protecting the island resort.

Miraflores recommended to the DILG the cancellation of “LaBoracay,” a weeklong merrymaking event, as the island would be shut down starting April 16 to pave the way for its massive rehabilitation. 

DILG Assistant Secretary for plans and programs Epimaco Densing said an investigating team is preparing the complaint against Miraflores and other local officials for serious neglect of duty before the Office of the Ombudsman. 

“The administrative case will be filed before April 14 or the start of the (barangay) election ban. We are initially looking at the local chief executives, most probably the mayor, and the municipal council… Maybe including the barangay captains and governor. We’re not yet through with evidence gathering against the governor,” Densing said.

Densing said the DILG investigators are questioning the discrepancy in the latest financial report issued recently by Malay town officials, showing only P91 million in environmental fees collected last year.

“Unbelievable. They declared the tourist arrivals at two million… times P75 (charged for each tourist) that is P150 million. We will still see why there is discrepancy in the numbers,” he said. 
The island of Boracay is part of the town of Malay in Aklan province.

Earlier, the DILG directed the mayor of Malay to account for the use of about P1 billion in environmental fees collected for the past 10 years from tourists who visited Boracay.

On the alleged liability of Boracay’s local officials, Densing said a lot of establishments on the island were erected without mayor’s permit; issuance of mayor’s permit without the necessary environment clearance; violation of 30 meters easement from the shore, among other infractions.

“Those violations (by the concerned local officials) were either serious neglect of duty and malfeasance or misfeasance,” Densing said.

He said the issue is not anymore about profit but public interest.

“This is not an issue of profit anymore. (The) individual interest of these businessmen is always secondary to public interest. That’s a general rule,” Densing said.

Densing said the Department of Tourism (DOT) is supporting the massive rehabilitation plans of Boracay island.

He said the DOT has recommended the temporary closure of the island resort.

“The DOT said that if we don’t do this now, the long term sustainability of the island as a prime tourist destination may be in jeopardy,” Densing added.

Densing said the DILG investigating team has sent to President Duterte the recommendation to close down business operations in the island for the moment.
Densing cited the LaBoracay event, which is scheduled from April 27 to May 3.

“For the past year that has been the complaint. It’s a big event. At any given time, there will be tourists, about 30,000 to 40,000 tourists in a day, plus 20 to 25,000 residents, so we are talking about 65,000 people in the island in a day,” Densing said in a television interview.

“So they generate a lot of pollutants, wastes, both solid and liquid and of course, the tourists will have to stay in the island and all the waste will have to go straight to the sea. What we want is to prevent that,” he said.

Densing is also proposing the declaration of a state of calamity in the island to speed up completion of the rehabilitation process from six months to three to four months only.

“I myself made my own computation. On the (rehabilitation of the) drainage side, it will take two to six months. Assuming that we get the island in state of calamity, because remember we do the bidding process for infrastructure under a normal process. It will take two months before we will be able to get suppliers,” he said.

Densing said another aspect of rehabilitation is the dismantling of illegal structures, which have mushroomed over the years.

“Then we will have some time to bring down the illegal structure and I am glad that as early as five weeks ago, they have been doing the self-corrections. And as I have mentioned in the Regional Development Management Council, I told them that if there will be participatory governance in the private sector, we will be part of the real process, I am looking at three to four months for the soft opening,” he explained.

“In other words, they have already done what they are supposed to be doing in that six-month period.”
Densing pointed out that instead of resisting the government proposal for a closure, the private sector and the local government units should cooperate and help the national government in the rehabilitation.

“And if they help and achieve this… I made my own pencil-pushing, three to four months maybe we could launch a soft opening,” he said.

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