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Boracay rehab may go beyond 6 months

MANILA, Philippines — The closure of Boracay might be extended as rehabilitation efforts on the island may not be completed within six months, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said yesterday.

Cimatu said more time might be needed to rehabilitate Boracay as 43 illegal pipes were discovered on the beachfront of the island where most tourists go swimming.
A team from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau unearthed the illegal pipes after conducting a survey along the beach using a ground-penetrating radar. The team also found a high level of coliform bacteria in the waters.
“The unearthed pipes were also proof of violation of the 25 meters plus five meters no-build zone from the shoreline,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu warned that criminal and administrative cases as well as fines amounting to P10,000 up to P200,000 per day will be imposed to those found responsible for the installation of illegal pipes.
President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay from April 26 to Oct. 31 to give way to rehabilitation and establishment of proper sewerage system. 
The leader of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) is disappointed with Cimatu’s pronouncement that the closure of Boracay might be extended to more than six months. 
“We cannot accept this. Any closure for more than six months will be catastrophic not only for the stakeholders of Boracay but (also) for its people… very disappointing. They promised six months and we will hold them to that,” TCP president Jose Clemente told The STAR.
“This was the very reason we were requesting for a detailed plan of the rehabilitation from the beginning. This eventuality was also the reason we asked that we be given a few months before closing the island to prepare the people and our clients,” he added.
Clemente also said the TCP will consult with other groups and come up with proposals “to mitigate the effects of a possible prolonged closure,” and ask the Department of Tourism to intervene to help them. 
Should the government extend the closure of Boracay, Clemente said the TCP will be compelled to exhaust all legal remedies to stop the extension of the closure.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it can provide cash-for-work (CFW) assistance to 8,000 workers and residents affected by the closure of Boracay.
For the implementation of CFW assitance program in barangays Balabag, Yapak and Manocmanoc, P77 million was allocated.
Under the program, each  worker will receive P323.50 as daily wage with the work lasting up to 30 days.  Various works will be done such as digging, dredging, desilting of canals and drainages, planting of trees, reforestation, clearing pathways, shelter/facilities repair, demolition of illegal structure, clearing of debris, garbage collecting, installing of support facilities and hauling of food and non-food items.
Depending on their skills, workers may also be assigned to do office work such as enumeration/profiling activities, monitoring, writing reports and camp management.
The DSWD operations center also provides financial assistance to affected workers and residents. From April 23 to May 21, the operations center has disbursed P18,687,000  to 7,693 individuals who availed themselves of the assistance.
The DSWD has also profiled and assessed 7,396 individuals as possible beneficiaries  of the Livelihood Assistance Fund.  – With Robertzon Ramirez, Rainier Allan Ronda


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