Senate inquiry told that Boracay may be ready to reopen by September

ADVERTISING
Boracay
File photograph of Boracay’s famous white-sand beach before the island was closed for environmental rehabilitation in April.

A member of the team tasked with cleaning up Boracay has told a Senate inquiry that the island could be ready for a ‘soft opening’ in September.

Epimaco Densing, part of Task Force Boracay, told the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources today (Wednesday, June 20) that the opening could come early, depending on the following milestones:

ADVERTISING
  • Thirty consecutive days that the water coming out of the island is within safe standards
  • At least 50 per cent of the illegal structures in the island’s wetlands have been dismantled
  • Seventy per cent of the road system and drainage system being built are in place
  • One hundred per cent dismantling of the establishments violating the 25-plus-five easement rule
  • Zero waste at the sanitary landfill
  • The reclamation of the island’s five wetlands
  • Full resolution of drainage issues

He told today’s hearing: “Prior to closure, we already pinpointed specific milestones of the possibility of having a soft opening before the six months given to us. We will be finalising it in our next task force meeting.”

Boracay was closed to visitors on April 26 for six months of ‘environmental rehabilitation’ work. The decision came after President Duterte described the famous white-sand resort as a “cesspool”.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the environment and natural resources committee, expressed doubt that the conditions for a soft opening could be met. “With the conditions, I don’t think you can do it,” she said.

ADVERTISING

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked if the task force was really imposing the conditions. “Is that realistic? Are those conditions the minimum that we should have in order to alleviate and to prevent further deterioration of Boracay,” he said.

However, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores has expressed satisfaction with the rehabilitation work. “As far as rehabilitation is concerned, we have been working closely with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and we’re happy with what is happening now on the ground,” he said.

“We have passed several milestones, we have given ourselves deliverables and in the past two months, we have seen so much improvement especially on the water quality.”

He said that as of yesterday, only one part of the island had failed to pass the water quality standard.

“Where before many parts of the island were not able to pass the water quality standards, as of yesterday when we had inter-agency meeting, only one portion of the island, that is on the back side of the island, Tulubhan side, is not passing the grade,” he said.

“We are confident that before the end of this month we will be able to finish this and once this is cleared up we are giving ourselves one month of testing, the whole month of July, and if we can pass those standards, we are hoping that we might recommend soft opening by September.”

ADVERTISING