Declare a state of calamity in Boracay to speed up rehab, says official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2018 09:00 PM

Boracay island. File photo

MANILA- Boracay island should be placed under a state of calamity to hasten rehabilitation efforts, a government official said Tuesday.

Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said declaring a state of calamity in the country's top tourist spot will allow national government agencies to address environmental issues faster. 

"Once declared under a state of calamity, national government agencies will come into the picture to help [address] the so-called human-induced disaster in the island," he said in an interview on ANC's Beyond Politics.

"To my mind, it's one way for the national government agencies to take over the management of the island temporarily because as we all know, not all local government officials elected may necessarily be competent in handling such a situation nor the management of such a premier island," he added.

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Government agencies initiated an unprecedented clean-up in Boracay this month after President Rodrigo Duterte cited the island's sewage problems, calling it a "cesspool" and threatening to shut it down.

DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo earlier suggested closing down the island to tourists temporarily to implement rehabilitation plans.

Densing said Teo and Año have expressed support for a 60-day moratorium on Boracay while Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has expressed apprehensions.

Heads of different government agencies are set to discuss environmental problems hounding Boracay in a Cabinet meeting on March 5, Monday, said Densing.

"I assume and I think this was mentioned by Sec. Año, including Sec. Wanda Teo, that they might ask the President to declare a state of calamity for Boracay," he said. 

A state of calamity according to Densing, will allow for a negotiated procurement of construction materials to fast-track the building of infrastructure for the sewerage system of the island.

Government agencies can also rechannel funds to make the island "internationally tourist-friendly," said Densing.

"What we need there is to put there a lot of people for purposes of public safety and order," he said.