Friday, October 19, 2018
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Boracay is ‘wild, wild West’

ISLAND REHABILITATION A resident of Boracay helps clean the beach under the labor department’s program to assist workers displaced by the six-month closure of the resort island. —LYN RILLON

BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan — Describing the rampant violation of rules and laws on Boracay Island as “wild, wild West,” an official of an interagency task force revealed that only 25 of 1,080 inspected establishments (2.3 percent) on the island had permits and complied with requirements.

“I was very surprised,” Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III told reporters here at the sidelines of the first meeting of the interagency task force on the rehabilitation of Boracay since the island’s closure to tourism on April 26.

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In a report to the task force, Densing said that among the establishments and structures that were inspected, 427 were operating with no business permits, 207 lacked environmental compliance certificates, 199 had no building permits, 427 did not have fire safety certificates, 412 failed to enroll workers in Pag-Ibig, Social Security System and PhilHealth while 112 had no sewage treatment plants.

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He said the establishments, including those owned by big business companies, were issued notices to comply.

While most of the establishments were currently not operating due to the closure of the island to tourists, they would not be allowed to reopen if they could not meet the requirements, Densing said.

He said violators were able to operate or build their establishments even if these should not have been allowed.

The meeting, presided over by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, was also attended by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and other officials.

Densing said the proposed budget for the six-month rehabilitation of the island was P1.36 billion.

Rehab budget

These would include financial and other forms of assistance to displaced residents and workers due to the temporary closure of most establishments and the absence of tourists and the rehabilitation of the island.

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Diokno told the Inquirer that he would sign the release of P490 million on Friday intended for road repairs and expansion.

He was not sure, though, if the funds were part of the proposed P1.36-billion rehab budget.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported to the task force that all illegal structures along the road from the Cagban port to the rotunda along the main road of Boracay had been demolished by their owners or the Department of Public Works and Highways.

At least 206 of 308 establishments violating the 30-meter beach easement had been given show cause orders, which would be followed by demolition.

Of 842 settlers on forest lands, 341 had been given eviction notices.

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TAGS: Boracay cleanup, Boracay closure, DENR, Epimaco Densing III
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