The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the time of completion for the rehabilitation of Boracay Island that was set to be due in May has been delayed due to resettlement problems.
“We haven’t started the resettlement activities of the informal settlers living in the forest timberland. There are lots of civilians who live there, and because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to resettle them,” Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.
He said the informal settlers were allowed to remain for “humanitarian” reasons in light of the pandemic.
“After the pandemic, we’ll look for a place for them, then we will assist them in moving to the new location,” he said.
To decongest the island, the rehabilitation team was not able to transfer the Boracay workers to the mainland, Mr. Cimatu noted.
“We haven’t transferred any workers yet. We had the intention of transferring them from the island to the mainland to add to the island’s carrying capacity,” he said.
The department has completed various infrastructure-related activities, such as acquiring easements for roads and removing structures violating the easement rules, Mr. Cimatu added.
The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) said the number of structures violating easement rules which represent 21% of all the illegal structures on the island fell to 342 as of the end of December.
In May, around the time the rehabilitation was originally scheduled to end was supposedly the BIATF’s authority also expires.
The DENR has requested President Rodrigo R. Duterte to grant a one-year extension to the BIATF’s term in office. Mr. Cimatu said extending the term will “allow the task force to complete all its projects which were stalled due to the global health emergency.”
The BIATF was created on May 8, 2018, by Executive Order (EO) No. 53. The term of the task force was due to end in 2020, but President Duterte issued another EO granting a one-year extension.
Source: Business World Online