By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) sees the completion of the resort island’s rehabilitation by May 2020.
“We are on track and if everything goes on smoothly, all our targets for the two-year rehabilitation program will be met by the time the task force is dissolved,” BIATF general manager Natividad Bernardino said.
Boracay was closed to tourists on April 26, 2018 to give way to a six-month rehabilitation program. It reopened on October 26, 2018 with stricter regulations on the use of its famous white beach and the entry of tourists.
In her presentation before the BIATF last Tuesday, Bernardino reported that 67 percent of the 339 commercial and residential structures along the beachfront are already compliant with the 25+5 meter shoreline easement rule.
She also pointed out that the island’s maximum carrying capacity of 19,215 tourists at any given time was strictly observed.
The average number of tourist arrivals for the period October 2018 to November 2019 was at 5,639 tourists per day.
According to Bernardino, the main road is also expected to be finished by yearend and other road sections by April or May 2020.
“The biggest problem we still have right now, and even after the two-year rehabilitation, is decongesting the island,” she said.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu acknowledged the efforts of the task force and those who are doing their share in the rehabilitation.
“I am thankful and grateful for all the success we have gained no matter how big or small in the continuing rehabilitation of Boracay,” Cimatu said.
On May 8, 2018, President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 53 creating the BIATF and designating Cimatu as its chairman. The EO provides that the BIATF shall be deemed dissolved two years after its creation.
Cimatu said the creation of a Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) to permanently manage the island is being proposed in Congress.
BIDA will be an attached agency of the DENR under its proposal.
“In the meantime, we may request President Duterte to extend EO 53,” Cimatu said.