The task force leading the charge in rehabilitating Boracay Island in Aklan has asked President Duterte to extend its life for one more year.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu bared Thursday, March 18, that the Boracay Interagency Task Force (BIATF) is proposing a one-year extension after “unforeseen events” caused delays in the completion of the massive rehabilitation of the world-renowned island.
“The term extension of the BIATF will end next month. Since the BIDA (Boracay Island Development Authority) Bill is still pending in both Congress, we are proposing that our President will allow the task force to continue its work,” Cimatu said during a press briefing.
“This is to ensure smooth transition of management and turnover of responsibilities to the incoming body,” the secretary added.
The proposal for extension was “unanimously endorsed” by the task force and has been submitted to the Office of the President, Cimatu further said.
The DENR chief explained that the rehabilitation works were supposed to be completed this year as per original plans. However, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic struck the country in 2020, interrupting the task force’s time line.
Among the rehabilitation-related targets the task force failed to achieve was the relocation of informal settlers occupying the forest timberland.
“There are civilians living there who are not supposed to be there but because of the pandemic, we were not able to relocate them and therefore we let them stay there for the meantime as a gesture of humanitarian consideration amid the pandemic,” Cimatu said.