July 21, 2018, 7:16 pm
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Boracay soft opening seen in September

PARTS of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan could be reopened to tourists by first week of September, an official of Department of Interior and Local Governments official told senators yesterday.

DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing, an official of inter-agency task force tasked to oversee Boracay’s rehabilitation, said the “soft opening” of Boracay could start after several conditions are met, like the dismantling of all establishments that violate restrictions on easement and half of structures built on wetlands. The requirements for the soft opening will be submitted to the inter-agency Boracay Task Force for approval, he said.

Asked by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon when this will be, Densing said, “At least first week of September.”

Densing also said 80 to 90 percent of establishments and houses of informal settlers that encroached on protected areas in the island, such as shorelines, wet and forest lands, have been demolished.

“Hopefully before the opening, the demolition has been completed,” Densing said. 

The target date for reopening the island resort is October 26.

President Duterte ordered in April the closure of Boracay for six months after he described the water pollution there as “cesspool.”

Drilon also said a single body that will take over the development and management of Boracay Island similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority should be created, to which Sen. Cynthia Villar agreed.

Villar chairs the committee on environment and natural resources which is spearheading the inquiry into the Boracay rehabilitation.

“Yes, the bill filed by Sen. Drilon will be brought to the technical working group. This is not a new concept like Subic Bay is managed by one body, Clark is managed by one body. There is something like that in Palawan, Batanes, in Intramuros, Rizal Park, so it can be done,” Villar said after the hearing.

Drilon is author of Senate Bill 1765 (An Act Creating the Boracay Island Council). The bill provides for the creation of the Boracay Island Council composed of representatives of government agencies, local government units and the private sector which “shall take over the management, development, regulation, protection and maintenance of the island, including its coastal resources and marine biodiversity.

Drilon also pressed for the continuation of the demolition of what he called the “mother of all the violators in Boracay,” referring to the controversial West Cove resort.

“This resort must be demolished because this is the symbol of the abuses done on Boracay. To project that we are serious in the reforms that we are doing in Boracay, West Cove, which is the mother of all the violators, must be demolished,” Drilon said.

Drilon asked the committee to subpoena Boracay West Cove resort owner Crisostomo Aquino to the next hearing, as he wondered why the resort was able to operate without a locational clearance, and sanitary, fire safety and business permits.
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