Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu assured that the national government continues to keep a close watch on the situation in Boracay even after the massive cleanup efforts in Manila Bay had started.

“We know the roads are still dusty. We ask for patience, [the Boracay rehabilitation] is still a work in progress,” Cimatu said after the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) held its second meeting for 2019 in Taguig City.

“The task force members still meet regularly to monitor the implementation of our plans in restoring the island and review policies or regulations,” he added.

Cimatu, as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), chairs the BIATF. Secretaries Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Tourism (DOT) serve as co-chairs.

Aside from regular meetings, officials of the 11 BIATF member-agencies have been regularly visiting the island to personally check on the rehabilitation’s progress.

Part of the ongoing progress on the island, which Cimatu reported on, was the expected completion by June of a government hospital that would address the medical needs of tourists and workers alike.

He also said that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) would soon eliminate unsightly overhead “spaghetti cables” and place these underground.

The DPWH has been working closely and extensively with electric companies in relocating electric poles affected by the road widening.

DPWH Assistant Regional Director Al Fruto said that in the first phase of the rehab, the agency had completed the four-kilometer stretch of the main road from Cagban Jetty Port to the Elizalde property, as well as the 600-meter road along Bulabog beach.

Fruto added that the agency aims to make five kilometers of sidewalks walkable by mid-March, and a total of 15 to 20 kilometers of roads completed by the end of the two-year rehab period.

Meanwhile, Puyat reported that as of February 18, the DOT had accredited more than 300 establishments, equivalent to more than 11,600 rooms.

Permission has also been granted for the conduct of three events on the island – a Frisbee competition and kiteboarding tour on March 1, and a fashion week from April 29 to May 1.
On the other hand, the DOT has barred cruise ships from visiting the island on the following dates: April 16-23, which includes Holy Week; for the rest of the summer from April 24 to May 31; for observance of All Saints and All Souls Days, from October 26 to November 8; and for the conduct of the Southeast Asian Games on November 23-December 19.

Cimatu also confirmed that both the DENR and the DILG have identified for demolition 10 establishments that have been non-compliant to regulations on easement along the beach and road.

Those named were: Boracay Plaza Resort, Willy’s Rock Resort, Little Prairie Inn, Watercolors Dive Shop, Blue Lily Hotel, True Home, Exclusive Dawn VIP Boracay Resort, New Wave Divers, Steve’s Cliff, and Calveston International.

The environment chief said that some of the resorts continued to operate despite violations. They would be given 15 days to self-demolish or have their properties demolished by the government.

Año said that this was a “time of reckoning” for some of the violators who had failed to finish demolishing their properties, and for others who had adopted a “wait and see” stance towards the demolition.

The DILG chief also stated that law enforcement agencies have already formed a task group to “implement to the letter all ordinances and regulations in the discipline zone.” ###