No construction of buildings in Boracay during rehab

AKLAN, Philippines – "Stop muna ang construction ng mga buildings sa Boracay Island (We're temporarily stopping the construction of buildings in Boracay Island)."

This was the statement of Richard Favila, officer of the Boracay Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), as he talked about the impact of construction boom on the island, and the moratorium imposed by the newly-created Boracay inter-agency task force.

President Rodrigo Duterte on May 8 formed an enhanced task force through Executive Order 53 to reverse the environmental woes of Boracay. The executive order also stopped the issuance of permits and licenses by concerned national agencies and the local government of Malay, Aklan.

The task force, chaired by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, is also tasked to review and consolidate medium-term master plans and formulate an action plan to rehabilitate and preserve Boracay's biodiversity, and to ensure its sustainable development.

Favila said for 6 months, the task force will strictly enforce the moratorium of construction of new tourism facilities and business enterprises, as well as the expansion of amenities and establishments.

"Walang magpapatuloy ng mga construction ng mga buildings as long as may moratorium tayo. Suspendido rin ang issuance ng permits at licenses sa mga bagong buildings (No one will be allowed to continue the construction of buildings as long as we have a moratorium. We have also suspended the issuance of permits and licenses for new buildings)," he said.

In the past two decades, the thriving tourism in Boracay has led to massive construction of hotels and tourist-related infrastructure. The construction boom had adverse environmental impacts and multiplier effects.

As the population increased in Yapak, Manoc-Manoc, and Balabag, millions of local and foreign tourists were also drawn to Boracay because of its images of paradise and sandy white beaches.

On April 26, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the 6-month rehabilitation and clean-up of Boracay. Duterte had described the island as a "cesspool."

Favila stressed that the construction moratorium will have a dramatic impact on the ongoing rehabilitation efforts of national agencies and the local government units (LGUs) in Aklan.

"Bawal ang construction ng mga buildings. Paano natin maayos ang isla kung may construction pa dito ng mga buildings (The construction of buildings is prohibited. How can we fix the island if we continue the construction of buildings)?" he said.

The Boracay inter-agency task force will also coordinate with LGUs and concerned agencies for the "immediate withholding or revocation of permits or licenses issued to any business establishments along easement areas and forest lands, illegally occupying wetlands, without permits to operate or discharge waste water and operating without or in violation of Environmental Sanitation Clearance and Environmental Compliance Certificate." –