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Citing unfinished business, task force for Boracay rehab welcomes term extension

By: - Correspondent / @nestorburgosINQ
/ 06:53 PM May 21, 2020

ILOILO CITY—The term of the inter-agency task force in charge of rehabilitating Boracay Island has been extended by one more year, the task force announced in a statement on Thursday (May 21).

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 115 on May 11 extending the term of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) to a third year on May 8, 2021, according to the BIATF statement.

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The task force was created on May 8, 2018 for a two-year term to supervise and manage the rehabilitation of the island.

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The President ordered the closure of the island-resort to tourists for six months from April 26 to Oct. 25, 2018 after he called the island a “cesspool.”

The President in his directive extended the BIATF’s term “so it may ensure the implementation of carrying capacity regulations, and continue to carry out its mandate under EO 53 (which created the BIATF).”

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who chairs the task force, welcomed the President’s directive saying this would ensure the continuity of rehabilitation efforts.

“We very much welcome this decision of the President knowing fully well that there is still much work to be done to complete the rehabilitation of Boracay,” Cimatu said in the BIATF statement.

Cimatu said that as of March 31, ”33 percent of Boracay establishments remained non-compliant with the 25+5-meter beach easement rule and another 27 percent have not complied with the 6-meter road easement as required by law.”

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He said the 1,100 illegal structures built on forestlands and on beach and road easements have yet to be removed aside from the 1,234 structures that have been demolished.

Cimatu was quoted in the BIATF statement as saying that “the enhanced community quarantine measures to the COVID-19 pandemic stalled all rehabilitation works on the island and affected the target dates set by the task force.”

But several Boracay residents have pointed out that the rehabilitation targets were not reached even before the pandemic.

Residents, who asked not to be identified for fear of being singled out by government agencies, have complained that the rehabilitation has grounded to almost a halt since last year and this year before the quarantine measures.

“There was a sudden flurry of activities when President Duterte was scheduled to visit Boracay. But only during that time,” a business operator told the INQUIRER.

The President, along with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, were supposed to visit Boracay on March 12 as part of efforts to boost tourism activities after the COVID-19 outbreak. But the visit was called off because of the pandemic.

Edited by TSB

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, Boracay, cesspool, Coronavirus, Easement, Rehabilitation, resorts, task force, Tourism, Travel
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