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New, improved Boracay: DENR chief exhorts people to learn some lesson

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is hoping the significant improvements in Boracay Island will be sustained in the long run.

New, improved Boracay: DENR chief exhorts people to learn some lesson
DASHING DESCENT. Members of a rescue team rappel from a helicopter during a rescue exercise (above) as part of an anti-terrorism drill on a beach in Boracay due to reopen Friday after a six-month cleanup intended to fix the damage inflicted on the resort by unrestrained mass tourism.  The island sports a new look (inset) with physical improvements and innovations and, authorities hope, ‘a change in the behavior of the people—locals and foreign tourists—which is the real change.’ AFP
“It is our fervent hope that the people of Boracay have learned their lesson well and that they are now ready to lead efforts to ensure the sustainability of Boracay as a world-class ecotourism destination,” he said.

Cimatu is the head of the inter-agency task force that led the six-month cleanup of the island, which is set to reopen Friday, exactly six months after its closure on April 26.

READ: Boracay ready to reopen; government orders casino closure

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Boracay’s environmental sustainability would depend largely on how the residents, stakeholders, and tourists would adhere to the guidelines of the task force.

More than the physical improvements and innovations, “a change in the behavior of the people—both the locals and tourists—will bring real change to the island,” he said.

READ: Boracay’s new regime a test case for Philippine sustainable tourism

He said he is optimistic the task force has “successfully laid the foundations for a sustainable Boracay” during the island’s six-month rehabilitation.

A day before Boracay was set to reopen, the Office of the Ombudsman suspended Malay town Mayor Ciceron Cawaling, the DILG said.

The DILG filed criminal and administrative charges against Cawaling and 16 other officials in Aklan province in June for alleged neglect of duty that resulted in environmental problems on Boracay island.

The charges were filed two months after the top tourist spot was closed to tourists so sewerage systems could be improved or put in place, and so illegal structures could be torn down.

Boracay is under the jurisdiction of Malay town in Aklan.

The Philippine National Police has permanently deployed hundreds of uniformed personnel in key areas to enforce law and order and to ensure the newly formulated rules on proper use are observed.

PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said about 400 to 500 policemen would conduct roving patrols along the beachfront and in the inner portion of the resort to ensure and protect the safety of thousands of tourists who are expected to pour back into the island.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to monitor all beach tourist destinations nationwide, to prevent them from deteriorating as Boracay did.

On Boracay, some 2,100 frontliners—boatmen, jetty port checkers, ticket collectors, land transport drivers, tour guides, travel and tour operators, hotel and restaurant waiters and food servers, massage and spa therapists, manicurists, vendors, souvenir gift shops salespersons, and water sports activities front-liners have undergone free training sessions to better deal with the influx of tourists.

“While Boracay is still a work in progress, we are optimistic that these front-liners will help us in showcasing the ‘Better Boracay’ we are working towards,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

Topics: Roy Cimatu , Boracay Island , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Ciceron Cawaling
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