Baguio takes steps to avoid Boracay’s fate

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government and local businesses here want to make sure that the Summer Capital of the Philippines will not suffer the same environmental woes now besetting Boracay which is now facing temporary closure to undergo rehabilitation.

In a press conference for the annual search for Baguio City's Lucky Summer Visitor (LSV) on Wednesday, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said Baguio City has a different situation now from Boracay, as the city up north is coming up with programs and ordinances to save and maintain its environment.

Among the latest regulations, which will be in full force starting May 1, is the ban on the use of plastic in the city.

Baguio City Councilor Elmer Datuin, who chairs the city committee on tourism, said what Boracay is going through should be a wake-up call to all local government units in the country, to include environmental protection measures in their respective development plans.

Domogan said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had so far not reported environmental degradation in Baguio or that the city had not been complying with its regulations. He said businesses in the city are complying with environmental laws and regulations and those found violating are immediately compelled to comply.

The mayor added the gravest penalty the city could impose on violators are business closure and criminal charges for national law violations.

Anthony de Leon, president of the Hotels and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB) and manager of the city’s five-star resort hotel Baguio Country Club, suggested that the city government look into giving incentives to local businesses with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs preserving the environment, aside from penalizing those refusing to obey the law.

De Leon said the Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR met with the city's business group last week to apprise them on new environmental regulations for businesses.

He said the HRAB is set to do an information campaign for all its members on this.

“We are creating an awareness so that when the time comes, they will not claim not knowing the rules,” he said.

As for the non-members of their group, de Leon said there should be due diligence on their part to comply with basic environmental laws and pursue their own environmental programs.

“There is a high price, but it is a worthwhile investment to come up with programs and projects that are more than complying with the basic environmental law requirement,” he opined. (PNA) Photo: PNA