LGU imposes ban on new Boracay structures

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — No new structures will be built in Boracay island until September 13.

The government of Malay town in Aklan province set a ban on new buildings for six months beginning March 13.

Malay has jurisdiction over Boracay.

Malay has adopted a six-month action plan to rehabilitate the island to "protect it from further degradation and destruction."

It added the ban will give officials enough time to address issues hounding the island.

 

The restrictions, however, would not apply to the following:

  • local and national government projects, programs, and activities
  • repairs on institutional centers vital to the community
  • those compliant with environmental laws

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflor had said they were fast-tracking the rehabilitation of Boracay's drainage system, saying it would be cleaned up by May 31.

Decision to come soon

A Cabinet meeting on Wednesday would decide on the fate of Boracay.

In a forum today, officials explored several scenarios to carry out the island's rehabilitation.

Tourists will be told to go elsewhere. The Caticlan airport will be the tourists' control area, while the Coast Guard, along with police and military men, will do security checks at Boracay's port area.

Tourists staying in the island will not be forced to leave but will be "encouraged to leave for their own safety, to give way to the cleanup."

Tourism spokesperson Assistant Secretrary Frederick Alegre said, "The government has its human side. We assure everybody that there will be time to adjust. It is not a radical removal, if you need a little time to pack up and you know, wind down your stay in the island, I'm sure that can be resolved."

During the rehabilitation period, the Environment Department will immediately start fixing the island's drainage system and the garbage problem.

Then they'll deal with the establishments and homes built within easement zones, wet lands, and forest lands. These will be assessed and may be demolished.

The Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR) has issued about a hundred notices of violations to owners of structures in easement zones, and about 900 others for those built in forest lands.

Some have volunteered to demolish their structures.

Part of the rehabilitation period will include going after government officials who could be held accountable for issuing permits to owners even on no-build zones.

The DENR said it is now undergoing internal cleansing and may sue its people for graft and corruption.

What about Boracay workers?

Another major concern is the fate of people working in Boracay.

Jojo Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress on the Philippines, said the 30,000 people working in the island are not just numbers, but "real people with faces, with families."

"If you're closing it in April, enrollment is in May, and can you imagine the upheaval of people if you are asking them to leave the island," he said.

The government will offer alternative livelihood to about 5,000 displaced workers. But that's only a small fraction of the total number of affected workers.

Stakeholders are pushing to move Boracay's shutdown to September, but government agencies said the island's rehabilitation can no longer wait.

CNN Philippines' David Santos and Pia Garcia contributed to this report.