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Thread: BORACAY, Paradise or Paradise Lost?

  1. #51
    Area for land reform in Boracay now bigger

    DAR looking at 170 hectares of farms in 3 villages possible for distribution

    By: Jaymee T. Gamil - Reporter / @jgamilINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:20 AM April 23, 2018

    At least 170 hectares of land in Boracay could be placed under the agrarian reform program, contrary to earlier reports that there were only up to 4 hectares of farms in the world-famous island resort.

    The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said updated figures showed the lands were in at least three villages.

    The DAR said the new estimate was from a study commissioned to geodetic engineer Ronald Mendoza.

    Mendoza headed a team that conducted a cadastral survey in Boracay from 2011 to 2012.

    A summary of the study, obtained by Inquirer, showed there were 102 hectares of agricultural lots in the village of Manoc-Manoc, 32 hectares in Balabag and 36 hectares in Yapak that were “possible for DAR coverage.”

    New estimate

    The new figures superceded the estimate of 4 hectares made by Agrarian Reform Undersecretary David Erro last week.

    Erro said his estimate was based on land use data in Boracay.

    The updated figures would be presented to President Duterte, who had announced he would distribute lands to farmers in Boracay, in a future Cabinet meeting.

    Mr. Duterte had called Boracay a cesspool where sewage was being thrown directly into the sea and ordered a cleanup drive.

    Officials said Mr. Duterte had a legal basis to carry out agrarian reform in Boracay in Proclamation No. 1064 that divided the island’s classification as 400 hectares of protected forest land and more than 600 hectares as “alienable and disposable” agricultural land.

    It was issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Marcos decree

    Luis Pangulayan, agrarian reform undersecretary for legal affairs, said, however, that the Arroyo proclamation failed to reverse Proclamation 1801, issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, declaring Boracay and other areas as tourist spots and marine zones.

    Pangulayan said the government could skip the normal process of acquiring lands in Boracay by applying Executive Order No. 407, also by Arroyo, seeking to accelerate the acquisition of lands for agrarian reform in Boracay.

    With four days before authorities start enforcing Mr. Duterte’s order to close Boracay on April 26, residents and business operators on the island were still waiting for the written order from the President in the form of either an executive order, declaration or proclamation.

    No black and white

    Assistant Environment Secretary Epimaco Densing III on April 17 said the President was expected to issue the order and declaration last week.

    Racefin Suco, municipal local government operations officer, said local officials had not received any advisory on the closure order and state of calamity declaration.

    But even without the order, guidelines governing the closure have been disseminated.

    Under the guidelines, only residents would be allowed to swim in the beach at Station 1 at the northern end of the island from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. only.

    No floating structures would be allowed within 3 kilometers from the shoreline and fishing would be allowed only for Boracay residents, according to the guidelines which have not been officially released.

    Officials said tourists would be stopped at the Caticlan jetty port and no visitors would be allowed except in cases of emergencies and with clearance from authorities. - With a report from Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

  2. #52
    6-month Boracay closure to cost economy P1.96B

    Neda chief says other tourist spots to offset losses

    By: Ben O. de Vera - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:30 AM April 25, 2018

    The six-month closure of Boracay Island from tourists starting Thursday, April 26, will cost the economy about P1.96 billion, which the country’s chief economist said Tuesday would be compensated for by an increase in arrivals in other domestic tourist spots.

    Citing an earlier estimate of the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda director general Ernesto M. Pernia told a press briefing that the temporary closure of the popular tourist destination, which will be rehabilitated from environmental degradation, would shed only 0.1 percent from the gross domestic product this year.

    Noting that the economy was currently about P14 trillion worth and was expected to grow by at least 7 percent this year, about P980 million a quarter would be lost, especially in the affected local government units.

    “Boracay [island], Malay [town], Aklan [province] and Region 6 will suffer—their growth rates will be trimmed,” Pernia said.

    For Western Visayas, its gross regional domestic product growth would be cut by 5.7 percentage points, Pernia added.

    The Neda chief nonetheless said that “on the other hand, there will be other areas in the Visayas earning some increase in growth rates; also, Luzon and Mindanao will have some increase” as tourists are instead expected to flock to other destinations in the country.

    “We are only assuming that 50 percent of the volume of tourists going to Boracay will be going to the other [local] destinations. I would assume that closer to 70-75 percent of those who used to go to Boracay will go to the other tourist destinations, especially domestic tourists,” Pernia said.

    “It’s going to be a temporary shortfall in terms of tourism income and tourist arrivals,” Pernia added.

    “Regarding the possible shortfall in tourist arrivals due to the Boracay closure, the Department of Tourism will have to step up its efforts at advertising and marketing our several other tourist destinations, so the same volume of tourists, if not more, will be diverted to these other beautiful locations,” the Neda chief said in a separate statement.

    Private stakeholders in the tourism industry earlier projected that economic losses from the six-month closure of the world-renowned island could exceed P50 billion in tourism revenues while 35,000 jobs would be lost. Most affected are the resorts and airlines, which have already cut back on their flights to and from the island.

  3. #53
    Fire sale, riot drill, TRO plea as Boracay party ends – for now

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:06 AM April 26, 2018

    BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan - This resort island suddenly became more affordable, as police in riot gear staged drills and workers mounted a last-ditch effort to stop its closure to tourists for up to six months.

    President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Boracay off-limits to tourists from Thursday so it can be rehabilitated, after pronouncing the 1,032-hectare island a “cesspool.”

    Two days before the closure, signs showing reduced prices of goods and services were everywhere.

    The D’Mall commercial complex at the heart of the long beach here had been transformed into a bagsak presyo (cut-price) center.

    Along the beach, branded Boracay shirts originally priced at P199.75 were being sold at P100 per piece. Sunglasses were sold at half the previous price.

    Hotels and restaurants were offering discounts on food to dispose of their stocks. Several resorts lowered their room rates to up to 50 percent. Others upgraded the accommodations of their guests for free.

    It was buy-one-take-one for fruit shakes at a hotel near Boat Station 1 at the northern end of the island.

    Explosions, gunfire

    On the eve of the shutdown, explosions and gunfire erupted near Willy’s Rock formation.

    Security forces, including those from the Navy Special Warfare Group (SWAG) and PNP Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), simulated a violent protest rally, bombing and hostage-taking, startling the laid-back beach community.

    The exercise included a sea chase and gun battle with aerial support in a cordoned-off area.

    While government officials lauded the exercise, several residents, including expatriates, decried the security measures as “overkill.”

    “They’ve gone completely nuts. [Explosions], gunshots from everywhere, helicopters with machine guns hovering over the island. Is this to scare the last tourists away and intimidate the remaining residents so they will be submissive?” a resident said.

    An expatriate said the massive security measures sent a negative image of the island. “Ridiculous,” another resident said.

    Police officials defended the measures.

    Unhampered rehab

    PNP Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez Jr. said the measures were meant to ensure “continuous and unhampered” rehabilitation efforts.

    The priority is to fix the drainage, sewage lines, water treatment system and the roads, and to remove easement violations on the beach and illegal structures on wetlands and forestlands.

    Some residents complain they were not given a chance to comply with laws that are only now being enforced.

    Canadian Allan Lieberman has called Boracay home for three decades. Despite having legal papers and permits issued by local authorities, he’s demolishing his 10-year-old cliffside resort, in anticipation of being evicted for occupying a plot that is supposed to be protected forestland.

    He thinks it’s was time for him to leave anyway.

    “Boracay? I hate Boracay,” he said, as a team of workers behind him took down solar panels and wooden poles. “There’s nothing of the old Boracay left. Even if restored, its soul has gone.”

    Last-ditch effort

    In a last-ditch effort, three private individuals—Boracay residents and workers—asked the Supreme Court to halt the closure.

    “Petitioners [are] seeking relief from a blatantly oppressive governmental measure that would deprive them of their livelihood, violate their rights and cause suffering for them, their families, and thousands of other [people] living and working on the island,” the petition read.

    It added that the President’s directive to keep Boracay off limits to tourists was “marked by single-handedness, arbitrariness, and the usurpation of authority vested by the Constitution in another branch.”

    Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Supreme Court had ruled that the government primarily owned the island, which was why it could close it to tourists in the exercise of its police power to protect the environment.


    The closure threatens the livelihood of 17,000 hotel, restaurant and other tourism workers, plus about 11,000 construction workers.

    More than 2 million tourists visited Boracay, pumping P56 billion in revenue into the Philippine economy.

    Local officials are scheduled to close Boracay to tourists starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday “with or without” an executive order from President Duterte.

    Only residents and workers with ID cards and terminal passes will be allowed to purchase boat tickets at the Caticlan port in Malay town before proceeding to Boracay.

    While many residents and business owners were resigned to the island’s closure, some were facing the challenge in high spirits.

    ‘Boodle fight’

    Owners and employees of the Sea Wind Boracay resort were set to hold a “boodle fight” on Wednesday night. In a boodle fight, people eat food on a long table with their bare hands.

    “We would be with our employees because they are like family to us. And we didn’t want to be gloomy because this was also an opportunity to make Boracay better,” Ruth Tirol-Jarantilla, one of the owners, told the Inquirer.

    Resort operator Hayden Bandiola said he would bring his 40 staff members to a spring resort in Antique province for a fun trip on April 28.

    “Many of us will not be seeing each other for several months and I would like us to part ways in a positive note and with no ill-feelings,” he said.

    Several residents, expatriates and business owners were having dinner and drinks until midnight on Thursday to mark the closure. - With reports from Marlon Ramos, Leila B. Salaverria and the wires

  4. #54
    ‘Cesspool’ problem hounds Boracay

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:50 AM October 26, 2019

    (First of three parts)

    BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN—Is the much-touted rehabilitation of world-renowned Boracay as successful as claimed?

    Early last year, President Duterte said the resort island had become a “cesspool” and ordered its shutdown to prevent its further deterioration. Boracay was thus closed to tourists for six months in 2018—from April 26 to Oct. 25.

    In his State of the Nation Address last July, the President declared: “We cleaned and rehabilitated the island, and I allowed it to heal naturally. I am proud to say that it has been restored close to its original pristine state.”

    But last September, an underwater video of a pipe discharging dark-colored wastewater into the sea went viral. It raised apprehension that the main environmental concern in Boracay—ensuring that water quality is within acceptable standards—has not been fully and strategically addressed.

    It also refueled criticism that the hastily implemented six-month closure of the island, which resulted in the loss of jobs for thousands of workers and crippled, if not closed down, many businesses, was unnecessary because rehabilitation activities could have gone on for years.

    Legal complaints

    In fact, a significant number of workers who were laid off or were told to temporarily stop working during the six-month shutdown have not returned to work even if most business establishments resumed operations when the island was reopened to tourists a year ago.

    One hotel official said about 40 percent of their workers found jobs elsewhere during the shutdown.

    For alleged negligence in the management of Boracay Island, complaints were filed against 17 officials, including Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and Mayor Ciceron Cawaling and all municipal councilors of Malay.

    In April 2018, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint against all of the officials, except for two: Cawaling and municipal licensing officer Jen Salsona. They were found guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, conduct unbecoming of a public official and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

    Cawaling won as mayor in this year’s elections but was prevented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government from assuming office pending the resolution of his appeal on his dismissal.

    In November last year, the National Bureau of Investigation filed graft and malversation complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman against former and incumbent officials of Malay for the alleged misuse of millions of pesos in environmental fees collected from tourists.

    But one respondent claimed to have yet to receive a subpoena or order from the Ombudsman in connection with the NBI complaints almost a year after these were filed.

    Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said he and other officials were also still awaiting the report of the Commission on Audit on the use of the environmental fees collected from tourists visiting Boracay.

    The report will be the basis for the possible filing of administrative cases against the former and incumbent officials.

    Sewage treatment

    During the shutdown, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) required commercial establishments, especially those along the beach front, that were not connected to the centralized sewer system, to put up individual or clustered sewage treatment plants (STPs).

    A modular STP costs from P2.5 million to P3 million.

    The DENR subsequently entered into a controversial agreement with Boracay Tubi System Inc. (BTSI), controlled by MacroAsia Corp., to build 105 STPs on the island.

    A number of business operators and residents questioned the mandatory putting up of STPs for the reason that a centralized sewage treatment system already existed. The system is operated by the water service provider, Boracay Island Water Co. (BIWC), controlled by the Ayala subsidiary Manila Water.

    According to business operators, efforts should have been focused on ensuring that establishments were connected to the centralized sewer system. They said individual STPs would be difficult to monitor and regulate and would increase the risk of the discharge of untreated wastewater.

    Cease-and-desist order

    Their fears proved true last September, when the BTSI discharge pipe was caught on video spewing dark-colored wastewater.

    The pipe, stretching a kilometer from the shoreline to the sea, was supposed to discharge treated wastewater from at least 49 STPs of hotels and resorts.

    The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) issued a cease-and-desist order on BTSI after water samples taken from the mouth of the outfall failed acceptable levels of fecal coliform bacteria and phosphate.

    But the order was lifted on Sept. 24, after the water quality at the outfall reached acceptable standards, according to lawyer Ramar Neil Pascua, DENR-EMB Western Visayas director.

    Joint sampling

    Pascua said BTSI’s violation had been endorsed to the DENR’s Pollution and Adjudication Board for the meting of a recommended maximum fine of P321,000 per day for eight days, or P2.56 million.

    In a statement released a week after the cease-and-desist order was issued, BTSI said it had resolved the issue. It cited results of a joint sampling with the DENR conducted on Sept. 21 showing fecal coliform bacteria within tolerable levels.

    It said that all wastewater was being treated on-site at the STP of establishments, and that excess water passed an interceptor before being discharged into the sea.

    Illegal pipes

    Pipes discharging untreated wastewater on the beach and into the drainage system were among the factors cited for the poor water quality of Boracay.

    But the DENR claimed that these illegal pipes were detected and plugged or removed during the island’s shutdown.

    Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu earlier claimed that the highest coliform bacteria level in the past months was 40 (most probable number/100 milliliters), way lower than the acceptable level of 100 MPN/100 ml.

    BIWC also installed individual STPs for 13 establishments, according to Blanca Eunicia Aldaba, its head of business operations. It is also upgrading the sewer line on the island’s main road.

    Connections to the centralized sewer system operated by BIWC increased from 1,189 in December 2018 to 1,350 this year.

    Centralized STPs

    BTSI installed at least 67 STPs.

    But nearly a year after the reopening of Boracay, the coverage of the centralized sewer system remains at its preclosure area of 61 percent of the 1,032-hectare island.

    Aldaba said the focus had been on the upgrading of sewer pipes along the main road and the putting up of individual STPs.

    BIWC is operating two centralized STPs, one each in Barangays Manoc-Manoc and Balabag, which have been compliant with environmental and water quality standards.

    Construction of a third STP in Barangay Yapak, at the northern end of the island, will start in the third quarter of 2020 and is due for completion in the first quarter of 2023. This will make the island fully covered by the sewer system.

    BIWC has begun putting up the pipes going to Yapak, with 17 percent completed as of Sept. 27. Completion is due next year, according to Aldaba.

  5. #55
    Land rows stalling rehab of Boracay forest, wetlands

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:05 AM October 27, 2019

    (Second of three parts)

    BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan, Philippines — The recovery of at least five of the nine wetlands here was part of the focus of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) when the island was closed to tourists from April 26 to Oct. 25, 2018.

    Wetlands help prevent or minimize flooding by acting as a sponge for excess water. Many of Boracay’s wetlands have been covered by developers or used for the illegal dumping of wastewater and solid waste.

    Their poor state is considered one of the causes of flooding on the island.

    Boracay’s nine wetlands comprise a total of 37.81 hectares. Eight are in forest lands, and one is in an area categorized as alienable and disposable, according to the BIATF-drafted Boracay Action Plan.

    According to the report of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), 548 structures, of which 455 are residential, are encroaching on the wetlands. At least 85 percent of those living there returned to their places of origin during the shutdown of the island.

    Eighty-five houses identified by the DENR as illegally occupying Wetland No. 6 in Barangay Manoc-Manoc were demolished in May 2018.

    Five of the nine wetlands have been adopted for rehabilitation and development by private companies under separate memorandums of agreement with the DENR.

    The projects that are being implemented in phases involve the restoration of wetlands and their development into linear parks or ecotourism areas.

    Still there

    The companies that are funding and undertaking the wetlands’ rehabilitation and development are the Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. (Wetland No. 2), San Miguel Corp. (Wetland No. 3), Aboitiz Equity Ventures (Wetland No. 4), the Lucio Tan-controlled Boracay Tubi System Inc. (Wetland No. 6) and the Gokongwei-led JG Summit Petrochemical Corp. (Wetland No. 8 )

    Almost a year after Boracay’s reopening to tourists, most of the 885 structures earlier identified by the DENR as illegally built in forest lands have not been removed.

    Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Interagency Rehabilitation Management Group, which manages the rehabilitation efforts, said complaints had been filed against the property owners and claimants for unlawful occupation of forest land.

    The BIATF has also identified an area on the island that will serve as a permanent relocation site for residents removed from wetlands.

    At Bulabog beach on the eastern side of the island, a number of residential and commercial structures identified by the BIATF as violating the 30-meter beach easement have yet to be removed.

    Bernardino said that as of Oct. 11, eight of 28 commercial and residential buildings in violation of beach easement had not complied with demolition orders issued by the local government of Malay.

    She said the structure owners were contesting the demolition order and had filed an appeal at the Office of the President.

    Almost done

    Property owners, including expatriates, are contesting the delineation of easement, saying they were previously granted permits and clearances by national government agencies and the local government.

    Many of the owners have invested their life savings in their properties.

    On the other hand, the removal of structures encroaching on the easement of the main road from the Cagban jetty in Barangay Manoc-Manoc to CityMall in Barangay Yapak is almost completed.

    Bernardino said the remaining overhangs of 19 buildings along the road were being demolished.

    The BIATF identified around 1,400 structures encroaching on the island’s road network easement before the island was shut down. At least half were removed when the island reopened.

    Bernardino said an inventory would still be conducted for an updated figure of the structures that needed to be demolished.

    But some property owners believe that their rights have been violated by the demolition of structures or by government officials pressuring them to raze their properties themselves. They have filed or are planning to file criminal and administrative complaints against personnel of the DENR, Department of Tourism and Department of the Interior and Local Government.

    Said a property owner who asked not to be named: “Most of us were afraid because of the heavy-handed measures they imposed during the closure. We have no choice, and we are also protecting our businesses. But they forget that [President] Duterte will not be in power forever.”

    (To be concluded)
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 10-30-2019 at 08:05 AM. Reason: Inadvertent smiley

  6. #56
    Pitfalls remain on Boracay’s road to sustainable tourism

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:53 AM October 28, 2019

    (Last of three parts)

    BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan, Philippines — Spencer Anderson was walking on the main road last March on his way to meet his wife to view the sunset.

    The 71-year-old retiree from Canada, who has been living in Boracay for 10 years, stopped briefly across Crafts store near Lake Town to greet friends when suddenly, the ground he was standing on gave way and he fell into a 2-meter-deep hole with protruding pieces of rebar.

    He was apparently standing on a piece of thin plywood that covered an excavation on the road, where a sewer construction project was going on.

    Anderson had to be pulled out by other residents. He suffered a deep wound below his knee that required seven stitches to close. He was immobilized for weeks.

    “It’s negligence on the part of contractors,” he told the Inquirer.

    No warning signs

    Several other tourists and residents have been injured after falling into road excavations with no barriers or warning signs.

    Natividad Bernardino, general manager of the Boracay Interagency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIRMG), said the contractors, government agencies and private companies undertaking road projects had been directed to cover the excavations or put up barriers and warning signs.

    The Department of Public Works and Highways has also covered the unattended excavations.


    The upgrading and widening of the 20-kilometer road network on the island, along with the upgrading of the sewer system, are main components of the rehabilitation of Boracay.

    The road is designed to be 6 meters wide, with a two-lane carriageway and 2-meter sidewalks on each side. It will also have loading and unloading bays, pavers, streetlights and vegetation.

    Despite the six-month shutdown of the island, only the first phase of the project worth P490 million has been completed. It covers 4.12 km from the Cagban port in Barangay Manoc-Manoc to the Elizalde property in Barangay Balabag.

    The second phase covering 3.3 km and worth P300 million was started last Jan. 10 and is due for completion on July 28, 2020. It covers the 1.9-km road from the Elizalde property to CityMall in Barangay Yapak at the northern end of the island, where most of the high-end resorts are located. It also includes a 1.4-km span from the Crossing Rotunda to the Tambisaan port.

    Traffic jams, mud

    Travel on the unfinished portion of the main road is rough and dusty. There are traffic jams on hot days and mud on rainy days.

    Last May and July, flash floods hit Boracay. Tourists and residents had to wade in floodwaters up to a meter, triggering outrage from the latter.

    “The Department of Tourism is brandishing Boracay as a model for sustainable tourism. Maybe sustainable flooding?” an irate resident said.

    The BIRMG has appealed for understanding. “We are still not done with all these projects [which] will be completed by the middle of next year,” Bernardino said. “In the meantime … we need to bear with many pains and sacrifices.”

    1st among 30

    This month, Boracay ranked first in the 2019 Readers’ Choice Award of Condé Nast Traveler’s “30 best islands in the world outside the United States” category.

    Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the recognition showed that “the rehabilitation was worth it amid many hardships.”

    Puyat said the Department of Tourism was regulating the number of tourists to ensure that it would be within the island’s carrying capacity of 19,215 at any given time and daily arrivals of 6,405.

    As of last Sept. 24, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) had accredited as compliant to environmental and other requirements 378 accommodation establishments with a total of 14,021 rooms.

    From January to September this year, 1,601,450 tourists visited the island, or an average of 5,931 daily, bordering the average daily carrying capacity. The figures are more than the 1,529,895 visitors recorded for the same period in 2017.

    Tourists are required to prebook accommodation before they are allowed to proceed to the island from the Caticlan jetty port.

    “LaBoracay” beach parties involving tens of thousands have also been prohibited.

    Cruise ship tourists

    But a number of business operators and residents are questioning the continued policy of allowing stops of cruise ships on the island. They say whatever benefits the visits of cruise ships bring to Boracay are offset by the road and beach congestion.

    These visits are also contrary to the government’s announced thrust of regulating tourist arrivals.

    “Sustainable tourism entails stopping mass tourism. We must also decide: What kind of tourism and tourists do we want to attract?” a resident who runs a business on the island said, adding:

    “Do we want cruise ship tourists, Chinese mass tourism, high-end casino players, or ecotourism? To mix all these kinds of tourism is not healthy and is not working.”

    Boracay Action Plan

    In December 2018, or two months after the island was reopened to tourists, government agencies adopted the Boracay Action Plan—a road map for rehabilitation and development efforts. President Duterte approved the plan last July.

    The 152-page plan lays down key areas: enforcement of laws and regulations, pollution control and prevention, rehabilitation and recovery of the ecosystem, and sustainability of island activities.

    Implementation of the projects, programs and activities under the plan will cost P25.27 billion until 2022, when Mr. Duterte steps down.

    The bulk, or P16.21 billion, will be allotted for infrastructure, and P5.13 billion for pollution control and prevention.

    The private sector will finance P15.89 billion, or about 63 percent of the total cost.

    The plan includes the creation of an institutional structure that will manage Boracay after the mandate of the BIATF ends in April 2020, unless extended by the President.

    It calls for studies on appropriate structures, including one that is led by national agencies with local government participation, or by a self-regulating body led by the tourism services industry similar to the Bali Tourism Board.

    There have been previous proposals for the creation of a Boracay Island Council, or an authority that will remove the island from the sole administration of local government units.

    Bills filed

    Sen. Franklin Drilon has refiled a bill for the creation of a Boracay Development Authority. Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. has authored a related bill for a Boracay Island Council.

    The measures would grant supervisory, management and regulatory powers to the multiagency body.

    A number of residents and business owners are hoping that the administrative body will be created when the mandate of the BIATF ends.

    “At the very least we should have a board composed of experts managing everything on the island professionally, and not attached to politics,” a resident said.

    Yearly visitor

    Olga Zubritskaya has been vacationing in Boracay yearly since 2010. She spends four months on the island in every visit, along with her husband or her children aged 7 and 5.

    The Moscow resident welcomed the improvements on the island following its closure. She said the roads were wider, making it faster to travel from the port to the hotel.

    She also welcomed the clearing of illegal structures on White Beach.

    But Zubritskaya frowned on the total ban on beach beds and tables under coconut trees and at the vegetation line.

    “I don’t want to lie on the sand even with a towel because I could be bitten by ants, and dogs urinate on the sand,” she said.

    Beach much wider

    She suggested that a limited number of tables and chairs be allowed at a specific time along the vegetation line.

    Residents and business owners have also welcomed the major improvements.

    “White Beach is now much wider and looks like a beach again, and not a street market,” said an expatriate living in Boracay for decades.

    But many tourists, residents and business owners said some of the policies being implemented should be changed because these were affecting the tourists’ experience.

    “White Beach might be looking nice and wider, but it is missing many components that international travelers expect: beach beds and sun umbrellas, and also dinner within the vegetation area,” a resident said.

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