DENR to impose 6-month Boracay closure despite appeal

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Department of Environment and Environment Natural Resources  Secretary  Roy Cimatu says no amount of protest can prevent the planned six-months closure of Boracay island  to pave the way for the much needed rehabilitation.

Earlier on, the inter-agency committee suggested that the closure will start on April 26

Cimatu said they are just awaiting the go-signal from President Rodrigo Duterte to close the island.

Recently,  various groups, from business to residents and workers coalesced, in an effort to ask for reconsideration from the government on the planned closure.

The group composed of Boracay Foundation Inc., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay, Boracay Business Administration of Scuba Shops and the people from the community is asking for a reconsideration citing economic loss.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, in an interview with reporters here said, the closure is aimed at improving the present state of Boracay waters “It is good to rehabilitate and make Boracay an eco-tourism site.”

Department of Interior and Local Government  Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III in an interview with CNN Philippine’s The Source emphasized   “We’re not shutting down the businesses on the island, that’s clear.”

But he said, during the same interview he stressed   “Those who are compliant can still be open. Those who are noncompliant, we will close them. The irony is, we will block their guests at the jetty port. We will have a system where foreign and local tourists will not be allowed to enter the island. [Compliant resorts] can operate; they just won’t have guests.”

The inter-agency task force has earlier recommended to the President  the closure of the island as pollution problems worsen due to neglect among stakeholders.

Cimatu said the recommendation was already submitted to President Rodrigo R. Duterte and expected to be discussed during the April 5 Cabinet meeting.

Cimatu on Monday, March 26, 2018, met with officials of the Local Government Unit of Malay, Aklan Provincial Government, the two water utilities — Boracay Island Water Company  (BIWC) and Boracay Tubi — and other agencies involved in the cleanup of Boracay.

“We are one in saying that we will do our best to comply with the six months, or if we can make it earlier then much better,” Cimatu said.

The meeting was conducted to come up with an integrated plan for Boracay that will be completed by Tuesday, March 27.

Cimatu said the Department of Social Welfare and Development also joined Monday’s activity to look into the possibility of giving assistance to those who will be  displaced, in case the closure pushes through.

Cimatu added that the final decision will still come from President Duterte. -Editah Z. Caduaya with report from PNA

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