THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that it will be conducting a dry run on Boracay a week before the tourist island formally reopened for business on Oct. 26.
“We’ll make sure that [the chosen] hotel[s] will be able to deliver the mandate to their guests without jeopardizing the environmental rules,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a press briefing on Thursday.
He said an initial 1,000 rooms will be made available on Oct. 15, followed by another 1,000 the next day. It will be up to the Department of Tourism to determine which hotels will be allowed to open, Mr. Cimatu also said.
“We also call on the public to wait for the announcement on which compliant and accredited establishments will initially be allowed to operate by Oct. 26 before they process with their own reservation,” he said.
“[Last Wednesday], we were able to hear from them that the average daily tourist [count] was at 6,400 guests daily and the total for any given day is about 19,000 guests,” he added.
“[We] also found out that the number of rooms available exceeded the ideal or the carrying capacity [during the months of] February, April, and May.”
Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said in an interview there will be policies issued before Oct. 26, as formed by a technical working group and approved by the interagency task force.
Among the proposed policies discussed by the agencies on Wednesday are the use of electric vehicles and the scrapping of tricycles and old generation vehicles as well as water sports equipment.
The task force is also considering the prohibiting of sand castles and placing chairs on the beach and the relocation of souvenir shops to the barangay proper.
Mr. Cimatu also reiterated the presidential directive that all establishments, regardless of size, should have their own sewage treatment plants (STPs).
“It’s not a policy of the DENR, it’s a presidential policy. It’s expensive but they can recover in the long run,” he said.
“For clarification, no STP, no compliance [certificates], no accreditation, no opening,” Mr. Antiporda said.
The DENR has extended the operation of its one-stop shop to Sept. 7 to give businesses more time to meet requirements.
For its part, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) said in a statement it is on track with its commitment to establish a temporary discharge pipe at the Bolabog beach to address the controversial drainage pipes.
TIEZA said it is also proceeding on course with the implementation of the Boracay Drainage Project (Phase II). The project, which has a total allocation of P1.1 billion ,is expected to finish by the third quarter of 2019, the agency said.
“TIEZA, as the infrastructure arm of the DOT, is fully committed to complete not only the short-term interventions but more so the long-term engineering solutions to the problems that beset Boracay. Boracay’s problems did not happen overnight, but we are making sure to fast track the project implementation pursuant to the directive of the President,” TIEZA Chief Operating Officer Pocholo D. Paragas said in the statement on Thursday. —main report by Anna Gabriela A. Mogato