THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed confidence that the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) is on track to meet all its targets by the time its term ends in May 2021.
“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,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a statement on Wednesday.
Cimatu 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), said illegal structures on the island are now down by 21 percent — from the initial 1,569 to 342.
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, of which 117 and 339 are in the 25+5-meter and 12-meter easements, respectively.
In terms of compliance with the easement rule, 79 percent or 978 structures are now compliant with the 12-meter road easement rule, according to the report.
For the 25+5-meter beach easement limit, 73 percent or 249 structures are now compliant. Only 27 percent or 90 establishments are noncompliant.
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, the “White Beach,” is now down to 10 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml).
Based on DENR Administrative Order 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 also 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 “no build zones” were relocated to other areas.
“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 from the 406 violation notices issued.