Crackdown: Dropping trash on Boracay could earn you six months in jail

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Bins on Boracay. Photo by Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat

A zero-tolerance approach to littering has been announced after trash was found on Boracay’s waterfront just hours after it reopened to local tourists.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government has today (Tuesday, October 16) said that the anti-littering ordinance on the white-sand island is to be “strictly enforced”.

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As we reported yesterday, just hours after the island partially reopened for a “dry run” photographs of discarded trash began to circulate online. 

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Trash spotted on the waterfront in Boracay yesterday, just hours after the island had reopened to visitors.

In response, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu said yesterday that more bins would in installed along the beachfront.

He said: “I’ve directed the environmental patrol assigned to the area to put trash can in that area. Trash bins recently donated will be issued to establishments to be placed in the white beach under the coconut trees.” 

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Today, Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing has vowed to strictly enforce the existing anti-littering ordinance.

“Very frustrating. We are reiterating our call for discipline from our tourists,” he said.

Drop trash, do time…

Under Municipal Ordinance Number 311, series of 2012, the Malay local government prohibits the following acts:

  • Littering in public spaces, waterways and recreational areas.
  • Urinating, spiting, defecating in public spaces, waterways and recreational areas.
  • Vandalizing the walls or surfaces of public places, or private properties upon complaint of the owner
  • Dumping of trash along roads that may impeded flow of pedestrian traffic

Violators may face a fine or imprisonment:

  • First offence: fine of 1,000 pesos, or imprisonment of not less than 10 days nor more than 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the court
  • Second offence: fine of 1,500 pesos, or imprisonment of not less than 20 days nor more than 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the court
  • Third offence: fine of 2,500 pesos, or imprisonment of not less than one month nor more than six months, or both, at the discretion of the court

In a letter to the environment department today, business owners under the banner of the ‘Compliant Association of Boracay’ have suggested setting up a team of ‘Boracay Marshals’ to catch and report litterers.

The letter said: “We would like to do our share in keeping Boracay free of debris and litter. In line with this, we ask your good office to deputize the CAB members’ select staff and/or pollution officers herein called as “Boracay Marshals” to police the public areas.”

Boracay Island was closed to tourists in April after President Duterte described it as a “cesspool”.

Six months of “environmental rehabilitation” have followed, tackling both pollution and unauthorised development.

Yesterday’s “soft opening” or “dry run” for local tourists was intended to test the success of the operation before the island is fully reopened on October 26. 

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