By Noel Cabobos
BORACAY ISLAND—A new round of construction moratorium is possible here following a study that the island has already exceeded its tourism, population, and physical carrying capacity.
This was bared by DENR Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III in an interview with Boracay Informer yesterday as he expressed his concern that if it remains unacted upon could threaten yet again the environment of Boracay.
Densing was here yesterday for the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force meeting at the Convention Center of Paradise Garden Resort.
“Boracay is the face of Philippine tourism to the world and we should not allow that the problems of the past will resurface at the expense of this island,” he said, adding “We’ll have to direct the local government to do something about it.”
He said the Task Force is eyeing the possibility to suggest to the local government to seriously consider a moratorium on construction to arrest the prevailing problem.
In a report submitted to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu by the Coastal, Resources and Ecotourism Research, Development and Extension Center (CRERDEC), it said that Boracay’s swimming and beach areas have already exceeded the actual tourist arrival per day.
The report was submitted on Oct. 24, 2019 by Lawyer Simmonette Lim and Maechelle June Blanca of CRERDEC, a center under DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) which coordinates all technological researches undertaken by the Research Center.
TOURISM CARRYING CAPACITY
Accordingly, the allowable number of tourist that can be permitted to enter Boracay per day is 6,405 considering that tourists stays an average of three days in the island while its over-all tourism carrying capacity is 19,215 persons per day.
The report said the number of tourists and locals already exceeded this allowable number.
However, in a summary of verified tourist arrival bound to Boracay Island, Grecil Taunan of the Malay Tourism Office said that the total arrivals from Nov. 1 to Nov. 25, this year, recorded only a total of 111,290 thereby recording only an average daily arrival of 4,452.
PHYSICAL CARRYING CAPACITY
According to the same report by CRERDEC, the carrying capacity of the island has also already exceeded.
Physical Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of structures and use units that can be built and raised in an available area that will not affect the existing environment in its natural processes considering all possible limiting factors.
Two maps, according to the report, served as the basis for the computation of the physical carrying capacity of Boracay Island. The first map was digitized from the existing Land Use Map of Malay (Municipality of Malay CLUP, 2013), which illustrates the zoning of existing alienable and disposable lands for residential, commercial, and tourism use. And the second map used was based on Proclamation No. 1064, which designates the areas within the Island for protection purposes (forestlands) and for Alienable and Disposable (A&D), which is in turn overlaid with the CLUP map classification for residential, commercial, and tourism areas.
If we will base the carrying capacity on the CLUP Map, the report shows that residential areas exceeded to 4,984 structures since the allowable residential structure is only 5,266 as against to the existing structure which is 10,250.
For its part, big businesses with lodging and accommodation services also posted a number of 430 structures as against to the allowable 292.
Meanwhile, those marked as “other business establishments” almost doubled in number as the allowable number of structure is 1,754 as against the existing structure of 2,779.
POPULATION CARRYING CAPACITY
The population carrying capacity, according to the same report, records an excess on a daily basis in the island.
Population carrying capacity, it said, is the maximum number of individuals that can be supported sustainably by a given environment.
“The Sustainable Accommodation through Feedback Evaluation (SAFE) Model was employed in calculating the population carrying capacity of Boracay Island. The specific area for a particular land use value for computing Population Carrying Capacity was based from the CLUP of Malay (2013-2022) and Proclamation No. 1064,” the report said.
The computed carrying capacity is 36,542 and 35,730 for CLUP and Proclamation No. 1064 respectively.
Comparing the total population carrying capacity with the current population, there are 15,024 (CLUP) to 15,836 (Proclamation No. 1064) people in excess on a daily basis in Boracay. The existing population is 70,781.
The first recorded construction moratorium on Boracay Island was on April 2012 during the time of Malay Mayor John Yap following the alarm that the massive development in the island could pose a bigger problem in the future which might be far worse than the coliform issue in 1997.
He declared the moratorium on the strength of Resolution No. 026, series of 2012, due to unabated commercialization, uncontrolled migration, and presence of informal settlements and illegal constructions back then.
But due to its “exemption clause”, the moratorium did not seriously bring a positive effect on the island.
Exempted in the order were the construction of residential house at owned property, construction with an investment of P20 Million and above for outsiders and P5 Million for Malaynons, institutional centers, utilities of infrastructure vital to community and industry, those with pending applications for building permits, and those constructions classified as under renovation and/or expansion within its present vicinity.
Observers said that had the moratorium was properly implemented without exemptions, it could have spelled the difference and the closure of Boracay could not have happened.