THE REHABILITATION of Boracay will proceed according to the six-month timetable, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said, amid recent reports that the resort island’s cleanup is proceeding ahead of schedule.
DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu made the announcement at a forum discussing the achievements of the government in the past year ahead of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
Mr. Cimatu was referring to the October timetable for reopening Boracay, which was closed to tourists on April 26 in order to facilitate the repair of environmental damage.
“We will stick with (the) six-month deadline,” he said, adding: “Boracay island will not be seen again as a cesspool.”
Periodic progress reports from the DENR have indicated that the cleanup of white beach — the main resort strip — is largely complete and that the department is focusing on pipe networks, roads, sewage treatment plants as well as problem areas on the other side of the island.
The update on the Boracay timetable was issued in the context of the DENR’s climate resiliency report in connection with the SONA. Cabinet Secretaries are conducting separate state-of-the-nation briefings by cluster to relieve the President of some of the heavy lifting on technical subjects when he makes his speech on Monday.
“The government (is resolved) to deal decisively with extreme weather events and disturbances so that environment and the people can bounce back more easily from their negative impacts,” he said.
Mr. Cimatu co-chairs the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR).
Apart from the Boracay cleanup, Mr. Cimatu also cited the zero-casualty rate from the Mayon Volcano eruption in January, and the P77.75 billion worth of funds provided to 3.3 million Filipinos for calamity assistance.
According to a statement released in conjunction with the forum, the DENR has been “working towards improving the country’s forest cover, rehabilitating mined-out areas, conserving coastal and marine resources, and enforcing environmental laws to help ecosystems and communities adapt to and mitigate the effects of the changing climate.”
He added in his discussion that the rehabilitation of Boracay led to the clearing of illegal structures built on land classified as forest and wetland.
“The clearing operations will pave the way for the rehabilitation and restoration of these ecosystems’ natural functions, especially for clean water supply, flood control, and wildlife habitat,” Mr. Cimatu said.
Speaking generally, Mr. Cimatu also noted improved monitoring capabilities though the installation of 10 Flood Forecasting and Warning (FFW) systems along major river basins, the 7,079 megawatts worth of renewable energy being generated in the country, and the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 489 as well as the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11038 (the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act.)
Presidential Proclamation 489 declared as a marine resource reserve a 352,000-hectare area within the Philippine Rise while RA No. 11038 created 94 additional national parks which are under the protection of the DENR.
“These issuances are expected to spur more development projects that could ensure better conservation and protection (measures) and enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts nationwide,” Mr. Cimatu said. — Dane Angelo M. Enerio