The Duterte administration is bent on restoring Boracay within six months with the Department of Tourism (DOT) requiring tourism establishments now to connect to the islands centralized sewarage system, while the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) starts demolishing of illegal structures in the world-famous tourist destination.
“To prevent continued harmful disposal of wastewater into the seas surrounding the island’s three barangays [Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapac], the DOT is imposing a six-month moratorium on accreditation during which resorts and other establishments must acquire and maintain individual water treatment facility, as well as connect to the centralized sewerage system,” the agency said in a statement.
The DOT said it is coordinating with the DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government to press
appropriate criminal and administrative charges against establishments/operators responsible for seawater contamination in Boracay.
The Tourism department, however, clarified that it has no plan to shut down Boracay to visitors or to put it under a state of calamity.
“The DOT shares the optimism of well-meaning and law-abiding stakeholder operators that Boracay Island will be completely restored in a six-month period,” it said.
Earlier, the DENR ordered the closing of 51 establishments in Boracay after finding they have no proper drainage systems and dump their sewage into the sea.
Dismantling illegal structures
The DENR began on Saturday its demolition of illegal structures on Boracay Island after a major resort agreed to dismantle structures built on rock formations and those not covered by a lease agreement with the government.
The controversial Boracay West Cove, the demolition work a day after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu visited the area and told resort owner Crisostomo Aquino that the illrgal structures must be removed.
Cimatu said the resort’s 120-square meter viewing deck built atop the rock formations was not covered by the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAg-T) it secured.
He added the resort’s FLAg-T only covers 998 square meters in Sitio Diniwid in Barangay Balabag, and does not include the viewing deck.
Aquino initially bargained for 30 days, but Cimatu said the demolition has to be done immediately.
A demolition team from the DENR was scheduled to tear down the viewing deck on February 23, but Cimatu deferred it until Saturday in consideration of the resort guests.
The Environment secretary instructed the resort owner to make sure that all debris are removed during the demolition.
“I do not want the waters to become dirty during the demolition,” he said.
Besides the violation of Boracay West Cove’s FLAgT, the resort was also ordered closed by the local government of Malay for operating without business and building permits.
“The moment you do it, you will be admired all over the country. It will set an example for all resort owners here to follow the law,” Cimatu told Aquino.
Besides Boracay West Cove, two other establishments have also voluntarily dismantled their illegal structures Cimatu said. He urged other resort violators to follow suit.
“We are running out of time. We are only given six months by the President [Rodrigo Duterte],” said Cimatu.
Prior to visiting the island, Cimatu met with the officials of the municipality of Malay, Aklan provincial government, Boracay Island Water Company, and Boracay Tubi System to discuss the sewerage problem on the island.
with EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ