President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has extended the term of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) by one year to May 2021, a move Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said would ensure the continuity of rehabilitation works on the world-famous resort island.
Cimatu, who chairs the BIATF, said President Duterte signed on May 11 Executive Order (EO) 115 extending the term of the task force, which the Chief Executive created in 2018 to “reverse” environmental degradation on the island paradise.
The term of the task force was originally set to end on May 8, 2020, or two years after it was created under EO 53. But the President, in his new directive, said there was a need to extend its life to May 8, 2021 “so it may ensure the implementation of carrying capacity regulations, and continue to carry out its mandate under EO 53.”
“We very much welcome this decision of the President knowing fully well that there is still much work to be done to complete the rehabilitation of Boracay,” Cimatu said.
According to the environment chief, the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic stalled all rehabilitation works on the island and affected the target dates set by the task force.
As of last March 31, Cimatu said 33 percent of Boracay establishments remained non-compliant with the 25+5-meter beach easement rule and another 27 percent have not complied with the 6-meter road easement as required by law.
Cimatu said the task force also has yet to carry out the demolition of over 1,100 illegal structures built within forestlands and beach and road easements. This was on top of the 1,234 illegal structures situated on wetlands and beach and road easements that were already demolished by the task force, he said.
“As we transition from ECQ to general community quarantine to the new normal, we will gradually resume work following the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases,” Cimatu said, as he assured the BIATF will prioritize the health and safety of everyone in Boracay.
Aside from demolition works, Cimatu said among the other critical projects outlined in the Boracay Action Plan that need to be completed are the improvement of water drainage system and rehabilitation of the circumferential road.
In 2018, President Duterte formed the task force, with Cimatu as chair and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat as vice chairs, just a few weeks after he ordered the closure of Boracay for six months to give way to a much-needed rehabilitation.