The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) is on track to meet all its targets by the time its term ends in May 2021, according to Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The BIATF is capping 2020 on a high note, setting us off in 2021 with solid confidence that we will hit our targets within the remaining five months ahead of us,” said Cimatu, who chairs the BIATF, which President Rodrigo Duterte created more than two years ago to supervise and manage Boracay’s rehabilitation.

In its year-end report, the BIATF’s implementing arm, the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG), revealed that the number of structures violating the easement rules in Boracay is now down to only 342, representing 21 percent or all 1,569 illegal structures on the island.

Of the 1,569 structures, 1,230 were inside the 12-meter road easement, while 339 establishments were inside the 25+5-meter beach easement limit.

Majority or 943 of these structures are commercial establishments with 212 violating the 25+5-meter easement rule and 731 within the 12-meter easement. This was followed by residential houses at 456 (117 and 339 in 25+5-meter and 12-meter easements, respectively).

In terms of compliance to the easement rule, 978 structures or 79 percent are now compliant with the 12-meter road easement rule.

For the 25+5-meter beach easement limit, 249 structures are now compliant or 73 percent. Only 90 establishments are non-compliant or 27 percent.

BIARMG General Manager Natividad Bernardino said the Boracay rehabilitation was successful in terms of compliance by hotels and other commercial establishments.

“The improved water quality of Boracay has been primarily the result of the enforcement of the 25+5-meter shoreline easement rule,” Bernardino said.

She also noted that the average coliform level at the island’s main tourism beach called “White Beach” is now down to 10 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml).

Per DENR Administrative Order No. 34, Series of 1990, the safe quality standard for Class SB water, which is suitable for seawater recreational activities like swimming and skin diving, is 100 MPN/100 ml.

 

The 2020 BIARMG report likewise cited the completion of Phases 1 and 2 circumferential road improvements covering up to 8.75 kilometers of paved and widened road.

Bernardino added that the relocation of some 113 illegal structures in Wetland No. 6 paved the way for its full rehabilitation. The 31 Tumandok families who previously occupied the wetland have transferred to lands covered by Certificates of Landownership Ownership Award issued to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform in March 2020.

“The indigenous peoples and natives of Boracay were awarded land through the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as a strategy to relocate them from ‘No Build Zones’ in wetlands and forestlands,” she explained.

This year, the DENR has filed 51 cases for illegal occupation of Boracay forestlands out of the 406 notices of violations issued for such offense. ###