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Demolition starts on Boracay Island

Resort owners, residents remove structures on roads, beaches as closure nears

A section of Boracay West Cove has been demolished as businesses, residents and officials prepare for Boracay Island’s six-month closure and rehabilitation. —ETO PAGADUAN

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan — A week before Boracay Island is shut down to tourists and the compulsory removal of illegal structures starts, resort owner Leonard Tirol has already complied with easement regulations.

“I removed a platform within the beach easement shortly after President Duterte declared that the island will be closed. I also removed a concrete fence at the back of my property within the road easement,” Tirol told the Inquirer.

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He also removed a small office occupying part of the road easement.

Tirol has encouraged other property owners to do the same before the island is closed to tourists to allow its rehabilitation.

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West Cove

“Let us not wait for the closure. There are property owners who still have not removed their structures even if these were already marked by the local government and the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” he said.

The local government of Malay has started demolishing the main building of Boracay West Cove Resort so it will not be occupied, said Rowen Aguirre, municipal executive assistant for Boracay affairs.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Feb. 24 ordered the demolition of structures in the resort not covered by the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) issued to Boracay West Cove in 2009.

A FLAgT allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forest land for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years renewable for another 25 years.

The DENR canceled the FLAgT but resort owner Crisostomo Aquino filed an appeal in the Office of the President in October 2014. The case remains unresolved.

On March 14, the local government closed the resort for operating without business, building, occupancy and sanitary permits.

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Road easement

Red marks are found on structures along Boracay’s 6-kilometer main road. These indicate how many meters the road easement will be expanded and area of the structures that should be removed.

Along the main road, workers are busy tearing up concrete fences and parts of buildings while some residents have removed parts of their houses within the road easement.

The DENR and the local government are enforcing a municipal ordinance mandating a road easement of 6 meters (m) to each side from the center line of the road or a total of 12 m.

Protest caravan

Government agencies are also imposing a 30-m easement on its beaches, which are being cleared of illegal structures.

On Thursday, about 50 vehicles joined a 71-km caravan protesting the closure of Boracay. The protesters said closing the island would hit the livelihood of residents and workers. The caravan, led by the #NoToBoracayClosure! #DefendLivelihood! #No to Casino! Coalition, left the capital town of Kalibo at 8 a.m. and reached Barangay Caticlan in Malay at noon.

The Boracay Foundation Inc. and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay have distanced themselves from the protest.

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TAGS: Boracay Island, demolition, illegal structures
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