DENR eyes full rehab of Boracay in 5 months
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is expecting to finish the full rehabilitation of Boracay Island in May, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Wednesday.
Cimatu said the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, which he leads, was “on track” to meet all of its targets by the time its mandate ends this year.
The government launched the rehabilitation of the resort island in 2018, after President Duterte called it a “cesspool.” Boracay was closed to tourists for six months that year for cleanup and beach clearing activities, but road and drainage improvements have continued after the island was reopened in October 2018.
In its 2020 year-end report, the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG), the implementing arm of the task force, said the number of structures violating the easement rules on the island was down to 342, or about one-fifth of the nearly 1,570 illegal structures identified on the island. Most of the structures, both commercial establishments and residential houses, were found inside the 12-meter road easement, while more than 330 establishments were inside the beach easement limit of 25 m plus 5 m, DENR records showed.
The BIARMG reported that more than 970 structures, or 79 percent, had already complied with the 12-m road easement rule. Only 90 establishments have remained noncompliant with the beach easement limit.
Due to the enforcement of the shoreline easement rule, water quality in Boracay has improved, said Natividad Bernardino, BIARMG general manager.
She noted that the average fecal coliform level on “White Beach,” the main beach site for tourists, was at 10 most probable number per 100 milliliters. Before Boracay’s closure two years ago, the fecal coliform level in that area was recorded at nearly 900 mpn per 100 ml. The acceptable coliform level for recreational water is 100 mpn per 100 ml.
A total of 113 illegal structures in Wetland No. 6 were also removed, relocating more than 30 indigenous families who occupied the wetland in lands awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform in March.