Heads roll: Mayor sacked over Boracay Island’s environmental woes

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Boracay
Boracay Island pictured before it was closed for six months to undergo “environmental rehabilitation”. The closure came after President Duterte described the white-sand resort island as a “cesspool”.

The mayor in charge of Boracay has beed dismissed for grave misconduct and other offences that led to the island’s environmental problems.

In a statement today (Wednesday, April 24), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the order followed the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision that found Malay, Aklan, Mayor Ceciron Cawaling guilty of “gross neglect of duty”, “conduct unbecoming of a public official” and “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service”.

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The order was served just hours after he reported back to work following a six-month suspension.

Also ordered dismissed was the town’s licensing officer, Jen Salsona.

The dismissal means Cawaling and Salsona can no longer hold any government positions. They will also be stripped of their retirement benefits.

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On October 25 last year — the day before Boracay’s reopening after its six-month rehabilitation — Cawaling was suspended by the Ombudsman. This was in connection with charges that the DILG filed against him, Salsona, and 15 other local officials two months after the island’s closure.

The complaints stemmed from the officials’ alleged neglect of the island, including anomalous collection of fees and issuance of permits. The charges against the 15 other officials have since been dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The DILG said it hoped Cawaling and Salsona’s dismissal would serve as a warning to all people involved in local government.

“We hope that other LGUs [local government units] will now be more proactive in protecting the environment and will not wait for the DILG to file cases against them. 

“We urge other LGUs especially in the Manila Bay Watershed area to take their responsibilities seriously and work closely with the DILG in the rehabilitation and clean-up efforts,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said.

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