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Drive vs illegal structures continues in Boracay

Malay gov’t issues final notices to resorts, shops to heed beach easement rule
Drive vs illegal structures continues in Boracay

BEACH POSE Tourists enjoy a cleaner and wider White Beach on Boracay Island after a six-month rehabilitation undertaken by a government task force. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

ILOILO CITY — The municipal government of Malay in Aklan province on Monday issued final notices to establishments that continued to violate rules on beach easement on Boracay Island, warning its owners of demolition if they would fail to remove illegal structures.

The crackdown is part of the rehabilitation of the island, whose popularity among travelers has continued to drop despite retaining its spot among the top beaches in Asia in the 2018 Tripadvisor’s World Travelers’ Choice Awards.

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Acting Malay Mayor Abram Sualog said the establishments would be given 15 days from receipt of the notices to demolish structures within the 30-meter beach easement.

After this period, the remaining structures would be removed by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF).

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Demolition warning

During a task force meeting in Manila last week, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, BIATF chair, said at least 10 beachfront establishments, including resorts, hotels and dive shops, were given notices.

Cimatu said these establishments were “not fully compliant or refused to comply” with easement rules and would face “forcible demolition” if they would fail to comply with the notices.

Sualog said operators of at least three establishments cited by Cimatu had advised him of their intention to demolish.

Boracay Island, the country’s premier destination, was closed to tourists from April 26 to Oct. 25 last year to undergo rehabilitation.

President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the rehabilitation after calling Boracay a “cesspool” due to unregulated development and environmental degradation.

The scope of rehabilitation work included enforcing beach and road easements to clear White Beach, the island’s main attraction, and widen the main road.

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Following rules

Socorro Ruchanie Gelito-Gadon, whose family operates Willy’s Beach Hotel, one of 10 establishments cited by Cimatu, clarified that they were not defying easement rules.

“We were among the first to start demolishing structures along the beach and at the back of our property facing the road when the island was closed last year,” she told the Inquirer.

“We have spent a lot for the demolition of parts of our property and we have incurred significant losses as we have not been operating since the closure last year. We asked assistance from the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) to remove the remaining structures,” Gadon said.

As of Feb. 27, the BIATF had accredited 320 accommodation establishments in Boracay, with a total of 11,662 rooms.

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TAGS: Abram Sualog, Boracay illegal structures, Boracay rehabilitation, DENR, Roy Cimatu
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