Inside Boracay: Week 9
Another quiet week Inside Boracay: Week 9 as the island continues to await the release of the funds to start laying the new main road.
- Various Meetings have taken place, including a frank Senate discussion regarding Boracay’s closure.
- Boracay Workers and residents face additional fees to enter the island, now that the boat service has moved to Tabon Port, instead of Caticlan Port.
- Sightings of a Whale Shark are attributed to a newly cleaned Boracay but this is disputed by Boracay Divers, Boatmen and residents who have been witness to the annual migration of the Whale Sharks, as they pass through the strait.
- Boracay Stakeholders Core Group Meeting takes places on 27th June, with Committee Officers elected and sworn in.
- According to some news reports, the President announces his intentions to clear the bungalows, chalets and apartments of the “rich”, and hand these over to the ‘locals’ so they can make some money from the island; resulting in confusion as to whether the intention is to give the land and properties back to the same locals who sold it to the current owners in the first place.
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 20 Boracay Foundation Inc (BFI) attended the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in Manila
During the committee meeting the BFI President gave the Foundations support to the recommendations to resolve environmental problems in Boracay. Discussions took place and included the Environmental Fee, in terms of increasing the amount and how it could be ‘ring-fenced’ for specific projects focusing on protecting and restoring Boracay’s environment. The committee stated that only 20% of waste should be transported from Boracay to the mainland, steps should take place for the rest to be recycled or composted. Sen Villar advised that a composting facility was provided to the Malay LGU, to help with waste recycling and that there is funding within DENR for composting facilities, which Boracay could apply for. Other discussion items included:
- A belief by some of the Senators, that a total island closure could have been avoided; the water and sewage issues could have been fixed without closure.
- The two Water Companies (BWIC and Tubi) are to divide the island between them to provide sewage systems for commercial and residential clients, and ensure that everyone will be connected to the main sewer line, or be required to install their own STP’s (Sewage Treatment Plants).
• The island’s environment issues lie with the Local Government, as a result of negligence through the years and a lack of enforcement of ordinance, zoning etc.
• A Master Plan should have been in place before the closure date; delays to the rehabilitation program could have been avoided. Currently, the Master Plan is still being devised and is unlikely to be released before August.
• A soft opening target date of September has been suggested by the DILG. However, only the “compliant” resorts and businesses will be allowed to open. As we advised in our Week 8 article there are a number of recorded “non-compliant” establishments where they are considered such only because they continue to wait on a date for the required checks and visits, prior to the release of certificates and permits. This has been an ongoing issue since the start of the year.
• The Senate appears to not support the calls for Agrarian Reform for Boracay.
• The Senate suggests that Boracay should be managed by professional managers, in a similar way to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, rather than the current Task Force which they feel lacks coordination and accountability, resulting in delays to the completion of rehabilitation work.
Watch a broadcast feed of the Committee Meeting, from ABS-CBN News here
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 20 & a huge hole is left at Bulabog Beach by an incomplete project by DENR
A Boracay resident reported, in shock, that a section of Bulabog Beach was dug out by DENR on the morning of the 20th June and then just left open, with a flimsy strip of plastic as a warning sign to passerby’s.
As she rightly pointed out such practice is a health and safety risk. Especially at night where it would not be obvious to passers-by that there was a 6ft+ open trench. The resident managed to speak to someone from DENR, who advised that they had used people on the ‘cash for work’ program that morning, to dig up the hole but they were not able to book the backhoe operators to fill it back in until late in the following afternoon, of the 21st June.
This casual attitude and lack of pre-planning has thankfully been rare during the rehabilitation but it is not something any residents wish to see repeated.
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 21 More fees applied for workers to enter Boracay
With the arrival of Habagat, travelling over to Boracay from Malay is now provided via Tabon Port. However, workers and residents this week found themselves subject to more costs to pay out. Despite mainland workers, and islanders already having purchased a Port ID, so that they do not have to queue or pay the Terminal and Environmental Fees each time they travel to or from Boracay, and having a Barangay Card or Employment ID to evidence their right to enter the island etc. Some have now been advised that they have to show their “PESO ID” to enter.
When businesses receive their Business Permit they are required to pay 200PHP, for each employee to PESO; the Public Employment Service Office. However it would seem that many Boracay Businesses did not know that they should receive a PESO certificate, and the majority of owners who have commented on this issue, advise that the LGU has not been issuing the certificates voluntarily. In addition, until now, no employees have been required to show their PESO ID and many were unaware that they should hold a”PESO ID”; an Occupational Permit. Municipal Public Employment Service Officer, Jona Solano, explained to Radyo Todo Aklan 88.5 FM, that people travelling to Boracay are required to have an Occupational Permit, at a cost of 200PHP.
Many Islanders are angered by this latest requirement, suggesting that it not only impacts on the money woes of Boracay’s poor but that it has been implemented now because Malay is running out of money. However, the Occupational Permit was legitimized by a 2005 dated Ordinance, and is a requirement, as noted above. At the time of writing, it is not clear if the employee or employer should be the one to pay the 200PHP.
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 23, Migrating Whale Shark
It’s always a big celebration when we learn that the Whale Sharks have passed by Boracay and this year was no exception. Despite suggestions that the appearance of the Whale Shark on June 23rd, as photographed by Reagan Cahilig, is due solely to the rehabilitation of Boracay and lack of boats and banca’s in the area, divers and tour guides post photos every year when they have spotted the Whale Sharks passing by. The strait is a migratory path for a particular whale family. It’s still a sight to celebrate and marvel at though.
Greenpeace has also stated publicly that the sighting of the Whales should not be used as an indication of the impact of Boracay’s rehabilitation.
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 24 2nd batch of Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) released by DSWD
The 2nd batch of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) received their aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Recipients queued at the Manoc Manoc covered court. 1,377 residents from Brgy. Manoc Manoc, 1,144 recipients from Brgy. Balabag and 1,635 recipients from Brgy. Yapak received the SLP
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – June 24 Completion of the installation of Another Sewage Treatment Plant
Boracay’s latest Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) has been installed and is ready to connect to the extended Sewage Pipes, as of June 24. There will be a total of 3 STP’s operating on Boracay with state of the art UV treatment capabilities, which will reduce the need to use chemical treatments. These plants were always planned but the installation has been fast-tracked as part of the rehabilitation of the island
Inside Boracay: Week 9 San Juan Festival 24th June
Due to all the great work carried out on the island to rehabilitate it, the islanders hard work at cleaning the beaches and compliance in peacefully doing what they could to assist with the clean-up and rehabilitation, we were rewarded with a fully open White Beach by Boracay Task Force.
Ordinarily, islanders are only allowed to swim at Station 1 between 6am-5pm. But on June 24th, the whole beach was opened up, so that Islanders and workers could celebrate the Festival of San Juan.
The Kabalikat Civicom 961 Boracay Chapter, Philippine Coastguard Auxillary and BFRAV all manned First Aid or Lifeguard stations along the beach.
How thoroughly depressing and disappointing it was to then be greeted, on the 25th June, with photos on Facebook of huge amounts of trash left on the beach, after the celebrations.
Has Boracay learned nothing?! Can Boracaynons genuinely blame the Construction and Rehab Workers on the island for this blatant disregard for looking after the beach (as there are no longer any ‘foreign’ tourists on the island to blame)?
Is it acceptable to give the excuse that it happened because there are a the lack of trash bins to use (the violators managed to carry full bottles, and packets, to the beach; did they lose the strength in their arms to take the empties back to their own homes to dispose of properly!)?
r is it time to accept that there are too many locals on the island, and not tourists, who are just plain lazy when it comes to cleaning up after themselves; that it has become second nature to trash and leave their environment dirty, and a health or safety hazard for others.
Just. TOO. DAMNED DEPRESSING BORACAY!
Inside Boracay: Week 9 – 26th June Malay LGU announce all future meetings will be Single-use Plastic Free!
The Office of the Mayor, Municipality of Malay, announced on 26th June that all future LGU meetings would be Single-use Plastic Free, with a ban on PET Bottled water, Plastic Cutlery, Plastic Cups and Plates, 3-in-1 Coffee Sachets and any other form of disposable plastic. This comes almost a month after a number of Boracay groups, including a YHH Eco Work Group, worked on an Ordinance Proposal for banning Single-Plastics on the island.
26th June – DENR release a Memorandum regarding the installation, by all resorts, of a STP
DENR Region VI Office releases a Memorandum today for all White Beach located establishments to have a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) installed, in addition to being connected to the Sewage Pipes of BIWC or Boracay Tubic. The reality is that water use on Boracay isn’t sustainable, and hasn’t been for many, many years with water piped in from the mainland. Being a tourist destination, the island is subject to an ongoing and excessive demand for water, day in and day out. To be a truly sustainable destination, Boracay’s water needs should not impact on the surrounding communities needs e.g. the mainland. Therefore, establishments with 50+ rooms will be required to have their own STP. And establishments with 49 or fewer rooms, will be required to share a “Cluster STP” with others or can install their own STP. STP’s enable establishments to reuse “Grey” water, after treatment. Grey water is waste water from sinks, showers, baths, washing machines, dish washers etc. It is safer to handle and is easier to treat and reuse onsite for toilet flushing, landscape or crop irrigation, and other non-potable uses. Basically, it’s recycling water. What is not clear is if this will form part of the Compliance requirements for establishments to be able to re-open on 27th October.
Inside Boracay: 27th June Boracay Stakeholders Core Group Meeting takes place
Under Secretary Arturo P Boncato Jnr arrived on Boracay for the induction of the Core Group Committee Officers, during the Boracay Stakeholders Core Group Meeting.
The island was delighted to learn that Djila Winebrenner of Lazy Dog Bed & Breakfast was not only elected and sworn in as a member of the Core Group Committee, but has been selected to stand as the Committee’s Secretary. Mr Wilbec M Gelito (Boracay Foundation Inc) was also elected as Chairman.
Boracay Stakeholders have a lot to contribute with regards to the future of the island, its rehabilitation and its place as one of the leading travel destinations in the World. Especially direct experience of living, working and providing hospitality services on the island, as well as how top-down decisions can impact positively, or negatively, on the local people and environment.
Djila has already shared with Boracay Stakeholders that Sec Cimatu has been clear that only compliant establishments will be allowed to operate when the island re-opens. Compliancy requirements may vary depending on the type of establishment operating. Djila urges all establishments to start to work through the BIC checklist now, provided to them by the DILG.
Copies of the BIC Checklist, can also be secured at Boracay Tropics, and an inspection scheduled.
27th June Administrative & Criminal Charges brought against 17 Boracay Officials
The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Under Sec Densing III today filed Administrative and Criminal Cases against 17 Boracay Public Officials (14 Elective and 3 appointed). The DILG allege that the officials violated the Local Government Code and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and will be looking into how local officials have spent the Environmental Fees, collected from visitors to Boracay, over the last 5 years . The majority of the listed are Officials who are currently in post, including Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, Malay town Mayor Ciceron Cawaling and Vice Mayor Abram Sualog. Densing III has advised that those listed are the first batch of Officials to be investigated.