SOLVE BORACAY’S PROBLEMS NOW, DOT, DENR URGED
BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN— No more press releases. We need action.
This was the challenge raised by business and community leaders on Boracay Island to the secretaries of the tourism and environment departments, saying they were fed up with the repeated pronouncements of national officials to address the island’s problems.
The leaders of Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Boracay issued the statement after Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda TulfoTeo and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu announced sweeping reforms and fasttracking of programs and projects to address Boracay’s environmental and regulation problems.
Teo and Cimatu visited the island on Tuesday and conducted an aerial inspection before meeting with local officials and business and community leaders.
Teo said the P1.3billion drainage project being implemented by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) would be completed in 2019.
Cimatu promised that his department would address problems concerning sewage, garbage and structures illegally built on forest lands.
He said most problems on the 1,032hectare island were related to the environment.
Cimatu also noted that Boracay’s population ballooned to around 50,000 due to migrants, composed mainly of construction workers and employees of resorts and hotels.
He said the island needed to be decongested, but he did not elaborate on how this would be done.
Tourist arrivals on the island breached the 2 million mark last year, according to DOT records.
Cimatu said proposals to regulate or limit tourists in Boracay needed “further study.”
Teo said the DOT would revoke the accreditation of hotels and other business establishments that illegally tapped on Tieza’s drainage system. She said the drainage system was intended for rainwater, not for wastewater of establishments.
The worsening flooding on the island had been partly blamed on the delay in the completion of the drainage project. Rains dumped by Tropical Storm “Urduja” on Dec. 18 flooded 90 percent of roads on the island, which residents described as the worst flooding in Boracay.
Teo said she and Cimatu would recommend to President Duterte that he issue an executive order creating an expanded multiagency task force to address Boracay’s problems and ensure the implementation of plans and projects for the island.
Malay Councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf, BFI president, urged Cabinet officials to “go to the ground and feel, see and experience” the situation being faced daily by residents.