LIST: PH unveils deliverables for 'soft opening' of Boracay

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2018 10:38 AM | Updated as of Apr 18 2018 03:47 PM

Boracay’s famous White Beach, taken on April 18, 2018, more than a week before the island’s closure to tourists. Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

BORACAY - The government has unveiled its list of deliverables within the 6-month closure of Boracay, giving a clearer picture of what the island’s locals and tourists should expect by the end of the shutdown.

Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing said Boracay may be opened earlier than the 6-month schedule if the following goals are met:

1. CLEAN WATER DISCHARGE

Densing said that by July, there should be 30 consecutive days of clean water discharge into the sea which should meet the standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The government has blamed untreated wastewater for the sorry state of Boracay’s seawater.

For years, Boracay’s turquoise waters have been afflicted by slimy and dark green algae. Scientists attribute the algal bloom to the direct discharge of untreated wastewater into the sea.

2. ZERO SOLID WASTE

There should also be no solid waste being brought to mainland Malay’s sanitary landfill, Densing said, as the government urged business establishments to practice proper waste segregation.

The municipal government said the current daily average volume of waste generated in the island is 78.10 tons, about a third of which are residual and transported to mainland Malay on a daily basis.

Non-biodegradable wastes are managed at the materials recovery facilities in barangays Manoc-Manoc and Balabag in the island.

Boracay’s famous White Beach, taken on April 18, 2018, more than a week before the island’s closure to tourists. Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

3. FIX BULABOG's DRAINAGE SYSTEM

The situation in Boracay’s Bulabog beach, located on the eastern side of the island, is among the severe ones, with coliform levels reaching alarming levels.

Coliform bacteria are usually found in human and animal wastes or from decaying organisms. The problematic drainage system in the area has been blamed for the sorry state of the beach.

Nenette Aguirre-Graf, president of business group Boracay Island Foundation, said the island’s kiteboarding and windsurfing industry has suffered in recent years due to the poor quality of sea water in the area.

Densing said the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority is the one tasked to rehabilitate Bulabog’s drainage system. He said the rehabilitation process started this month and is expected to be finished by May.

4. CLEAR SHORES OF EASEMENT VIOLATORS

Densing said one of the major goals during the island’s closure is to clear the island’s shore of structures violating the 30-meter easement rule.

“We have to dismantle by the end of July or early August all violators of the 25 plus 5 meter easement rule. So [we are looking at] 100 percent compliance of all establishments, both in the front of white beach in the Bulabog Beach,” Densing said.

Densing said some establishments have offered to demolish structures violating the easement rule, but they appealed that this be done from April 25, the day before the island closes.

Boracay’s famous White Beach, taken on April 18, 2018, more than a week before the island’s closure to tourists. Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

5. RECOVER WETLANDS

The government is also aiming to recover at least 3 of the island’s 5 missing wetlands by July or August.

Some of the wetlands went missing after structures were allegedly built on top of them.

Among the properties identified as being built on top of wetlands are the Seven Seas Boracay, D’Mall, and Crown Regency Hotel.

6. WIDEN ROADS

Densing said another goal is to complete the widening of the island’s 4.8-kilometer main road by 70 percent.

“If we hit the 70% completion rate of the road widening project to 12 meters including that of the new drainage pipeline, then that can be a signal that we can have a soft opening by most probably by August at the earlier,” he said.

“The DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) has mentioned they have the budget that will be taken from the department for the development or the widening.”

According to Densing, the DPWH has already factored in the possible arrival of the storm season to their schedule.

“On the infrastructure side, it was already considered by the DPWH. So assuming there will be no storm, we can do the road widening in less than six months,” he said.