One might still remember the public outcry, the indignation and protestations of both local business owners and residents, alongside travel companies and airlines, when the government announced their acquiescence to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to close the resort island of Boracay for a thorough environmental rehabilitation. The furor rose to a near-critical mass when the closure began on April 26, lasting six months until October. Any complaints died down when reports came of epic pollution and business malpractice discovered during the rehab. By now the closure was accepted and people were resigned to wait. Now however, there is big news.
CNN Philippines reports that the promised reopening of Boracay Island to tourism and everything else on October 26 will be highly likely to happen, with no foreseeable delaying of date. This was stated by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Boracay Rehabilitation on Wednesday, July 4. Perhaps the best news that can be taken on that day by people involved in Boracay is a post-meeting statement by Cimatu, where Boracay businesses and resorts certified as environmentally-compliant can start taking guest reservations, with October 27 at the earliest.
Conversely from that, Sec. Cimatu, who also serves as the Inter-Agency Task Force chair, is reminding all those establishments in Boracay that have been flagged with environmental violations during the ongoing rehabilitation that they are prohibited from making any advance bookings at their businesses until they are cleared as fully complying with the environmental regulations in place. With regards to the rehabilitation, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, the Task Force vice-chair has expressed his positive impression on the rehabilitation of Boracay. Año was also present with Cimatu and other officials during the Task Force meeting.
Thus far, according to Cimatu, the Boracay Task Force has accomplished several objects in the months-long rehabilitation period. Relocation sites for housing of illegal residents have been marked out; the island’s small wetlands area is being maintained; geo-hazards were mapped; road widening projects are ready to commence in the middle of the month. New water sampling tests have indicated a rise in quality from the early days when sewage pipes into the sea were discovered. In addition, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing announced the government’s plans to distribute Boracay areas to land reform beneficiaries; details remain classified until the Department of Agrarian Reform officially reveals it.
The Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Task Force is believed to be the biggest collaborative effort by government agencies in recent memory, with participation by, aside from the DILG and DENR, the Departments of Justice, Labor, Trade, Social Welfare and Public Works.
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