Boracay rehabilitation goes full throttle

BORACAY, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) went full throttle to implement environmental laws in the island after President Rodrigo Duterte described Boracay as a "cesspool" and threatened to shut it down to tourists.

To date, 85 show cause orders were served by DENR mission teams assisted by the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center, the Metro Boracay Task Force, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Houses and establishments occupying the forestlands of Boracay Island were given 15 days to reply. A total of 842 occupants and claimants with structures and improvements in 33.67 hectares of forest lands were accounted by DENR regional office last year.

Environment secretary Roy Cimatu formed mission teams divided into 6 operational sectors for deployment to 3 barangays – Balabag, Manoc-Manoc, and Yapak. The teams are tasked to crack down on environmental violators and to report to a command center in Boracay of their daily accomplishments.

At least 140 personnel from DENR and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) joined Cimatu in his Save Boracay mission. (READ: DENR's Roy Cimatu: 'We can save Boracay')

Cimatu deployed his personnel on February 22 near Station 1 (Balabag plaza) to determine the 30 meters easement from high tide mark.

Last Friday, DENR identified 293 hotels and resorts violated the 25+5 easement rule in the island and some 300 establishments found violating the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2002 or failure to connect with existing sewerage lines in Boracay.

Cimatu said majority of the mandatory easement zone violators were establishments in highly congested areas in Barangay Manoc and Balabag.

Meanwhile, Boracay West Cove in Sitio Diniwid agreed to demolish its view deck atop rock formations on Saturday after Cimatu inspected the resort in Barangay Balabag.

Crisostomo Aquino, owner of Boracay West Cove, said the voluntarily demolition would encourage resort and hotel owners to follow suit in complying environmental laws.

"Sana sumunod na rin ang ibang resorts na nag-violate para maayos natin ang isla," he said in radio interviews. (I hope other resorts that have made violations would follow suit, so that we can fix the island.)

The controversial resort has a 25-year Forest Land Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAGT) for 998 square meters. – Rappler.com