ONLY a small portion of businesses on Boracay Island are deemed compliant with environmental and accreditation requirements just weeks before the resort island returns to operation on Oct. 26 in a so-called “soft opening.”
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Eduardo M. Año said in a news conference that Boracay, which was closed down for six months in April, has 454 businesses, including hotels and restaurants, with only 225 deemed having achieved various compliance milestones.
Specifically, Mr. Año said only 71 establishments have complied with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR) order to establish their own sewage treatment plants.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism has only accredited 25 hotels and resorts that have complied with various DILG and DENR permits and clearances.
Mr. Año expects more establishments are currently in the process of meeting the requirements.
He added that there will be a dry run on Oct. 15.
During a recent Cabinet meeting, DENR undersecretary Sherwin S. Rigor said among the policy guidelines approved is an overall capacity of 19,000 visitors at any given time.
Mr. Año added that such a cap can be exceeded by just one of the island’s signature events, such as LaBoracay, timed in previous years for Labor Day on May 1.
He added that such crowding levels will no longer be allowed.
Asked about proposals to relocate some residents of the island, Mr. Año told BusinessWorld that housing sites are currently being evaluated on Panay island for informal settlers occupying forest land.
“We have found relocation areas and plan to gradually transfer them” to the Aklan towns of Nabas and Ibajay, as well as portions of Malay that are on Panay. He added that the transfers will await the construction of housing by the National Housing Authority. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras