Bo­ra­cay fam­i­lies get evic­tion no­tices

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JANVIC MA­TEO The STAR.– With Robert­zon Ramirez, Rho­d­ina Villanueva

Sev­eral fam­i­lies liv­ing in Bo­ra­cay’s no-build zones have re­ceived no­tices to va­cate their homes as part of the gov­ern­ment’s plan to re­ha­bil­i­tate the is­land, the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment (DSWD) said yes­ter­day.

At least 28 fam­i­lies com­posed of in­for­mal set­tlers re­ceived evic­tion no­tices, which would be im­ple­mented in the com­ing months, ac­cord­ing to DSWD of­fi­cerin-charge Em­manuel Leyco.

The DSWD-West­ern Visayas has met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies to dis­cuss mea­sures on how to as­sist the af­fected fam­i­lies.

“We’ll con­tinue our ef­forts to de­ter­mine the needs of the in­for­mal set­tlers such as re­lo­ca­tion and ini­tial as­sis­tance,” Leyco said.

The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) said Bo­ra­cay res­i­dents liv­ing in prop­er­ties clas­si­fied as forest­lands would be served evic­tion no­tices and given enough time to re­lo­cate.

“The fact that they’ve been liv­ing in the area for decades does not make their stay le­gal and right. These are forest­lands they are oc­cu­py­ing, which shouldn’t be used for res­i­den­tial pur­poses. This is­sue will be dis­cussed with the le­gal team so nec­es­sary as­sis­tance can be ex­tended to them,” DENR Un­der­sec­re­tary for pol­icy, plan­ning and in­ter­na­tional af­fairs Jonas Leones said, re­fer­ring to the in­for­mal set­tlers.

He said the agency would look into how the forest­lands be­came res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial sites.

Leones said the DENR is co­or­di­nat­ing with the DSWD for any help that can be pro­vided to the af­fected res­i­dents.

Of the 28 fam­i­lies who re­ceived evic­tion no­tice, 15 are cov­ered by the gov­ern­ment’s Pantawid Pam­ilyang Pilipino Pro­gram (4Ps).

Leyco vowed to pro­vide sup­port for those who would be af­fected by the Bo­ra­cay clo­sure.

“We want to get a firm un­der­stand­ing of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground so the prepa­ra­tions for those who will be af­fected by the clo­sure will be ad­e­quate and ef­fec­tive,” he said.

The DSWD ear­lier said it would ac­ti­vate two oper­a­tion cen­ters in Ak­lan – in Bo­ra­cay and Malay – which will process the as­sis­tance and emer­gency wel­fare ser­vices for the fam­i­lies.

The cen­ter in Bo­ra­cay will be up­graded into a one-stop shop that will pro­vide ser­vices com­ing from other gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

“The pro­grams and ser­vices of the DSWD are not enough to pro­vide all the needs of the peo­ple who will be af­fected by the clo­sure. This is the rea­son why we es­tab­lished the one-stop shop, to con­verge all the ser­vices of dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment agen­cies, es­pe­cially in mat­ters per­tain­ing to health, em­ploy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion,” Leyco said.

At least 2,300 fam­i­lies cov­ered by the gov­ern­ment’s 4Ps will be af­fected by the Bo­ra­cay clo­sure, ac­cord­ing to the DSWD.

The DSWD field of­fice rec­om­mended a P34-mil­lion bud­get for a cash-for-work pro­gram for af­fected work­ers.

An­other P193 mil­lion is needed to pro­vide skills train­ing for mi­cro-en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment and em­ploy­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tion.

Dis­ap­pointed

Mean­while, tourism stake­hold­ers in Bo­ra­cay were dis­ap­pointed by what they de­scribed as the gov­ern­ment’s lack of a com­pre­hen­sive or mas­ter plan for the is­land’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Jose Cle­mente III, pres­i­dent of the Tourism Congress of the Philip­pines, said the in­ter-agency task force on the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Bo­ra­cay failed to an­swer their queries dur­ing a meet­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion of the is­land’s con­di­tion yes­ter­day.

“Noth­ing was re­solved. Too many ques­tions were left unan­swered,” Cle­mente told

ANDY ZA­P­ATA JR.

Tourists en­joy the crys­tal clear wa­ters of Kayan­gan Lake in Coron, Palawan over the week­end. The in­land lake, dubbed the clean­est lake in the Philip­pines, is ac­ces­si­ble by a steep climb of ap­prox­i­mately 300 steps.

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