By Alexandria Denise San Juan
While Boracay Island is set to reopen next week, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that it will take about two years to completely rehabilitate the world-renowned island.
“Boracay is now very fresh and very orderly but of course there are still a lot of things to be done for the next two years,” DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said.
He added that while local and foreign tourists will be welcome again to visit Boracay during its soft reopening on October 26, it will take about two years to complete the island’s rehabilitation.
But the DILG chief explained that the paradise island is ready to reopen as its immediate problems on violations of environmental laws have been fixed after the six-month rehabilitation.
Año said that stricter law enforcement will be observed by the authorities for the locals and visitors to avoid the island’s deterioration again.
“There will be a lot of laws and ordinances to be implemented in Boracay under our [DILG] supervision to make sure that there will be no repeat of what happened before,” Año said.
To carry out measures to save Boracay, the government also created a Boracay Inter-agency Task Force composed of the DILG, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Año emphasized that during the soft reopening, only compliant business establishments or those firms which have operating sewerage treatment plants (STPs) will be allowed to operate.
The Task Force has previously directed all residents and establishments to set up and use the STPs through clustering or separate treatment plants to keep the Boracay seas safe from wastewater.
He added that only those establishments that have been accredited by the DOT and cleared by the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force as fully compliant to local and environmental laws such as the Environmental Compliance Certificate or Certificate of Non-Coverage are allowed to reopen to local and foreign tourists on October 26.
According to Año, the “no floating structure” ban within three kilometers on the shoreline is also still in effect as part of the campaign to protect the beaches of Boracay.
Following the island’s rehabilitation, the DILG chief said that the department with other national government agencies will conduct inspections in all other resorts across the country with Boracay as the national standard.
“We will also conduct inspections in all other resorts across the country to ensure that these tourist destinations also comply with the existing environmental laws,” he said.
Año said that beach resorts that will be found negligent and remiss on environmental compliance will not be tolerated and will be made accountable.
The DILG Chief said that administrative cases had been filed against erring local government officials of Aklan for the mismanagement of the island.