THE ABOITIZ Group, through its social development arm Aboitiz Foundation, has adopted and will rehabilitate Boracay Island’s Wetland #4 into a “linear urban park”.
The company announced yesterday that it recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the project, which will start this year and targeted for completion in three years.
Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV) Chief Operating Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz, who signed the MOA, said the partnership with DENR is in line with the company’s “long-standing advocacies.”
“With government’s support, the Boracay that we will co-create and leave to our children will be a community that is safe, empowered, and sustainable,” Mr. Aboitiz said.
Under the MOA, Aboitiz Foundation will be rehabilitating the one-hectare lagoon located in Barangay Balabag under the guidance of DENR and the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.
The urban park will be an eco-tourism and educational site, with a cistern under the park’s plaza to serve as a catch basin to mitigate flooding.
It will serve as a venue for environmental awareness through educational and other activities.
The lagoon will be surrounded by a boardwalk, and planted with endemic trees and plants to restore biodiversity on the island, the company said.
“I am really grateful that businessmen have offered to sponsor the wetlands. It is very costly and [not] in our budget but they are there now,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is quoted in the statement.
Under the Boracay rehabilitation plan, the nine wetlands on the island will be assigned to private sector groups for development.
In March, a month before the island was closed to tourists for six months, authorities discovered that only four out of the nine wetlands can be found as illegal settlers and businesses have built structures over the five others.
Last month, Mr. Cimatu said that the illegal settlers are being relocated to mainland Panay.
The illegal structures that were built on protected areas and have gone over the easement zones have been demolished.
Boracay is slated to open again on Oct. 26, but the interagency task force is expected to keep operating for another year and six months to carry on with rehabilitation work.
AEV’s shares on Monday closed P0.80 or 1.33%, lower from last Friday’s P60.35 to P59.55 apiece. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato