Boracay rehab challenges: Treating sewage, relocating illegal settlers

AKLAN, Philippines – Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said on Thursday, July 5, said that two issues being addressed now in Boracay's rehabilitation are the setting up sewage treatment plants for hotels and proper relocation sites for illegal wetland occupants.

Cimatu explained the inter-agency task force for the island's rehabilitation decommissioned the existing sewer lines by establishments at the White Beach. The pipelines and underground sewers illegally discharging into the waters of Boracay were discovered last May.

Cimatu said hotels with less than 50 rooms would have to cluster with other hotels for their mandatory sewage treatment plant (STP). Hotels with 50 rooms or more will have their own sewage treatment plant.

May sampung hotels na kasalukuyang ginagawa ang kanilang treatment plants," Cimatu said. (There are 10 hotels whose sewage treatment plants are currently being constructed.)

"The establishments are directed to complete the STPs by September,” he added.

Evacuation centers

The task force also identified Malay evacuation center in mainland Malay town as a temporary evacuation site for illegal wetland occupants.

Cimatu said they had been to the relocation site on the Malay mainland, but the area was landslide-prone.

"May na-recommend na dalawang possible relocation sites na titingnan natin,” Cimatu stressed. (There are two other recommended possible relocation sites we'll look at.)

The environment official said the task force would also discuss with stakeholders the relocation of 6,000 workers to the mainland of Malay.

“We have to bring them out of the island,” he added.

Optimistic

Cimatu is optimistic the local and foreign tourists will see and enjoy a "new Boracay," considering the efforts of the inter-agency task force and the national and local government agencies in rehabilitating the prime tourist spot.

“There are a lot of hotel reservations already. We are doing our best and I will makesure we are on target for the Boracay opening,” he stressed.

On water quality, Cimatu said the main beach is already "cleaned" and the task force is looking to clean the east side of the island in the next several weeks.

Construction and rehabilitation of Boracay's main road to address traffic congestion is also ongoing as several building and establishment owners volunteered to demolish their structures encroaching the road widening.

“Ang 5.2-km na main road ay gagawin ng tatlong contractors ng DPWH sa susunod na dalawang buwan. Kahit sa gabi, aayusin nila ang main road, sidewalks, at drainage systems,” Cimatu said. (The 5.2-kilometer main road will be done by 3 Department of Public Works and Highways contractors in the next two months. Even at night, they will fix the main road, sidewalks, and drainage systems.) 

Cimatu added Boracay is still on target for an October 26 re-opening. – Rappler.com