Boracay rehab off to a good start, says Cimatu

The rehabilitation work in the pollution-challenged Boracay got off to a good start with the overwhelming support and cooperation from its residents and stakeholders, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said over the weekend.

A few days after the resort island was closed to tourists on April 26, Cimatu said he was surprised and happy with the warm reception the DENR and other national agencies in charge of the rehabilitation have received from residents and stakeholders.

“We anticipated confusion and disturbance among the residents and stakeholders, but thank God there was none. We’re very happy dahil maganda ang reception ng mga tao,” Cimatu said in an interview with the state-run radio station dzRB.

He added: “We thought we would not get their unity and cooperation but I was surprised. They already understood and accepted the fact that we have to clean it and that they have to show their cooperation.”

According to Cimatu, around 98 percent of Boracay residents and business owners have volunteered and agreed to self demolish their structures built illegally along the road. “This is around 300 establishments causing road obstruction,” he said.

“Around 90 percent of them have given their waiver for us to proceed with the demolition. Unlike before that they were threatening to file cases against us,” he added.

At the same time, Cimatu said the DENR will ask displaced Boracay workers joining the cash-for-work program administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to help in the clean up of wetlands.

Cimatu underscored the importance of wetlands that serve as the island’s water filter.

“Unfortunately, there are buildings on the wetlands and informal settlers have built houses beside them. This has resulted in poor quality of water draining into the sea,” he lamented.

Boracay has nine wetlands but only four of these remain. The DENR aims to recover the rest in the course of the rehabilitation. ###