Manila, Philippines – Several business operators on Boracay Island object to another order by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) requiring even small establishments to put up of sewerage treatment plants (STPs).
DENR Memorandum Order No 2018-72 dated Sept. 10 was issued as a clarificatory guideline to the putting up of STPs. But several business owners pointed out that the order imposed additional requirements, especially to small establishments.
“The clarifications of the DENR regarding STPs is quite confusing and not clear at all. As everything that the [Boracay Interagency Task Force] is doing, it is quite botched, amateurish… One can see that not a lot of thought went into these memorandum with new guidelines,” a long-time business operator and resident said.
The business owner spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity as their business was still undergoing evaluation.
The owner said STPs would be a reasonable requirement only for big resorts and hotels.
“It is not understandable why so many smaller resorts and hotels need to have STPS, particularly that a well-functioning [centralized] sewage pipe system and treatment plant are existing.” the owner said. “Either this is super amateurish or there must be other reasons, unknown to us commoners.”
Under the memorandum, all business establishments along the long beach with 50 rooms or more are required to put an STP by Oct. 26 as a precondition to operate. That is the date set for reopening the island to tourists.
Establishments with 30 to 49 rooms are given until Nov. 26 to set up STPs, while those with six to 29 rooms are given until Dec. 26 to comply.
Those with five rooms and below need to be connected to the central sewerage system or have their own STPs.
The same requirements apply to establishments not located along the long beach. But they are given a longer time to comply.
Previously establishments with six rooms and less were not required to put up an STP.
“Operators of establishments with six rooms thought they were already compliant with all requirements only to find out now that they have to also put up an STP,” another business operator said.
The business operator said they only learned and got a copy of the memorandum from a radio station because they were not informed by the DENR.
“What are we to them, puppets?” the source said.
Operators of small business would find it difficult to put up a STP unit estimated to cost between P2.5 million to P3 million each especially as almost all businesses have stopped operating since the island was closed to tourists on April 26.
In an earlier interview, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, the agency’s deputy spokesperson, said the STP was an integral measure in ensuring that no untreated waste water would be released into the waters of the island.
But the business group Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) had earlier decried what it said was the lack of consultation by government agencies on guidelines and policies in the ongoing rehabilitation of the island.
“With the island’s closure nearly coming to an end, we are dismayed and disappointed at the continued apparent apathetic treatment of stakeholders,” the BFI said in a statement.