The closure of Boracay Island to tourists is necessary for the government to swiftly and effectively carry out corrective measures for the sustainable use and management of what the country considers as a prime national asset, the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority in Western Visayas said.
The NEDA Region VI Office (NRO-VI) stressed that the Boracay closure, notwithstanding its social and economic impact, will pave the way for the rehabilitation and improvement of the solid waste management and sewerage systems, along with the protection of ecologically fragile areas in the island.
Government personnel and resources are being mobilized to carry out a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. Such plan will adopt guidelines that will take into consideration the island’s environmental characteristics, carrying capacity, and legal concerns following Presidential Proclamation No. 1064 signed in 2006.
Emergency responses have been lined up to take care of vulnerable groups that will be mostly affected by the closure, including workers, families, students, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk, farmers, traders, and transport stakeholders.
The Provincial Government of Aklan has also started removing illegal structures, checking infrastructure and connections, and issuing notices for violations of easement provisions.
NRO-VI said the coordinated, synchronized, and systematic delivery of these activities, with the cooperation of national and regional government agencies, local government units, private groups, and non-government organizations, should fast track the accomplishment of tasks and deliverables.
It also expects that, with the full support of stakeholders, the rehabilitation during and after the temporary closure will revitalize the tourism industry in Boracay, making it more sustainable in the medium to long term.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, for his part, agrees with the position of NRO-VI.
“Right now, we must look into the future and take a concerted effort to improve the conditions of Boracay. We must restore its beauty which has captivated and drawn people from all over the world for a long time,” Pernia said.
He added that efforts toward the development of Boracay are in line with strategies in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 of ensuring ecological integrity and a clean and healthy environment.