MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the term of the inter-agency task force in charge of the rehabilitation of top tourist destination Boracay island until the end of his administration, according to an order that Malacañang released on Tuesday.
Duterte in Executive Order 147 said the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine restrictions “resulted in unprecedented delays and massive disruptions” in critical programs under the Boracay rehabilitation plan.
Amending an earlier EO that created the task force, Duterte said the body would be “deemed dissolved on 30 June 2022, unless extended or sooner terminated by the President.”
The task force was formed in 2018 and was ordered to “reverse” degradation of the island paradise. Duterte earlier extended the task force’s term until May 2021.
About 80 percent of Boracay establishments are now compliant with beach easement rules as of April, said Duterte, quoting the task force’s accomplishment report.
He said the 160 cases filed by government led to the settlement of fines, while all beaches, except the Tulubhan outfall, are now “suitable for recreational activities.”
Two of 9 wetlands in the island “have been fully recovered from illegal settlers,” he noted among other accomplishments.
Boracay was closed to tourists for half a year in 2018 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.
Authorities shuttered Boracay from Aug. 7 to Sept. 7 when Aklan province returned to the second strictest lockdown level to curb COVID-19 cases. The holiday island reopened last Wednesday.
Duterte late last month lifted a moratorium on casino operations in Boracay to generate taxes for COVID-19 pandemic response.