MANILA - Two weeks after the closure of Boracay, President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order creating an inter-agency task force that would “reverse” degradation on the island paradise.
Under EO No. 53, which the President signed on May 8, the environment secretary shall chair the task force while the interior and tourism secretaries shall serve as vice-chairs.
Other members are the secretaries of justice, public works, social welfare, labor, and trade.
The chief operating officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, chief of the Philippine National Police, the Governor of Aklan, and Mayor of the Municipality of Malay where the island is located were also named members of the task force.
In his EO, Duterte recognized that “years of indiscriminate development have led to environmental degradation, pollution and the depletion and destruction of the island’s biodiversity.”
“The issues surrounding Boracay island are no longer purely [a] local matter but a national concern that needs concerted national and local cooperation and synchronization of plans and programs,” he added.
The task force’s powers and functions include ensuring that policies on Boracay are consistent with relevant laws, rules and regulations, reviewing and consolidating existing master plans, and formulating an action plan towards sustainable tourism development.
The task force must also coordinate with concerned agencies and local government units on the matter of withholding or revoking permits or licenses issued to any establishment caught violating environmental laws and ordinances.
The EO also imposes, 6 months from its effectivity, a moratorium on the construction or expansion of business facilities on the island and the issuance of permits and licenses for such.
The task force shall be deemed dissolved two years from the effectivity of EO No. 53.
Boracay has been closed to tourists since April 26, as the government embarked on a 6-month cleanup and rehabilitation of the island. The steady flow of tourists to the island, famous for its powdery white sand, has led to overcrowding and environmental degradation over the years.