Cimatu clarifies Boracay rehab to be completed within deadline

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — The timetable of Boracay's rehabilitation is right on track, according to the Environment Secretary.

Asked on Saturday if the rehabilitation efforts on Boracay Island would take longer than six months, Secretary Roy Cimatu answered: "Hindi na. Mukha yatang...baka mauna pa tayo."

[Translation: It won't. It looks like we'll be ahead of schedule.]

Cimatu offered this clarification after the excavation of 26 illegal pipelines leading to the shoreline from 16 establishments.

"'Yung mga nahukay ninyong mga tubo na papunta sa beach ay galing sa mga establishment na may dalang bacteria na galing sa dumi ng tao [The buried pipes you excavated are from establishments and they carry bacteria from human waste]," he said

Cimatu related soldiers were enlisted to help clear the illegal pipelines.

"Definitely, kung hindi natin nagawa ito, I am very sure na magpoproblema later on," he said.

[Translation: Definitely, if we didn't fix this, I am very sure we would have a problem later on.]

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier said that Boracay rehab efforts may take longer than the allotted six months.

Boracay has been closed to tourists since April 26 at President Rodrigo Duterte's order. He said the shutdown will be up to six months, or until October.

Duterte called the world-famous tourist destination "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if its pollution problem went unsolved.

"Lack of information"

A group of business owners in the island, the Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI), released on Saturday a statement calling out the government for failing to give out timely, relevant information about the rehabilitation efforts on the island.

"We would like to request the concerned agencies to update us on the status of their work, timelines, upcoming plans, and hindrances if any that would cause delay to their projects," the statement said.

The group said a month into the rehab efforts, there was neither a central source of information nor a place to ask questions, including official dates.

"Currently, community members and the private sector hear updates only through local media, and not directly from the source agency," BFI said.

The foundation also scored the "very minimal assistance" to workers affected by the island's six-month closure.

"We want to know if budget for the entire rehabilitation including support to the displaced workers are not just in the pipeline, but are now easily available and that rehabilitation construction works will be done 24/7," BFI said.