By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has welcomed the term extension of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BIATF) until May 2021 to allow them to complete the critical projects in the island destination.
“We will continue our unfinished project there. We have our plans set already,” Cimatu said in a virtual presser on Wednesday, June 10.
“We will continue the construction of drainage along the circumferential road. At the same time, we will continue with the rehabilitation of Boracay. The (beach and road) easement, as well as illegal buildings built in forestlands will be addressed by the BIATF this year,” he added.
The BIATF was created on May 8, 2018 under Executive Order (EO) No. 53. Cimatu, as the DENR secretary, was designated as its chairperson, while Secretaries Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Tourism serve as co-chairs.
The task force’s term was supposed to end two years after its creation.
In signing EO 115 last May 11, 2020 that allows the term extension of the BIATF, President Duterte has pointed out that several establishments in Boracay Island have yet to comply with the beach and road easement protocols.
The task force has yet to complete the demolition of all structures violating the 25+5-meter beach easement rule, while it has to ensure the compliance of the establishments to the 12-meter road easement rule along the Circumferential Road.
“Upon further validation made by the Task Force last 31 March 2020, 33 percent of establishments in the Boracay Island are not yet compliant with the 25 meters plus five meters beach easement, and 27 percent of establishments have not complied with the road easement,” the President said in the EO.
He also noted that there are still 723 structures built on forestland blocks, 112 establishments on the beach easement, and 334 facilities on the road easement that need to be demolished.
Boracay was closed to tourists on April 26, 2018 to give way to a six-month rehabilitation.
It reopened on October 26, 2018 with stricter regulations on the use of its famous white beach and the entry of tourists.