The cleanup and rehabilitation of Aklan’s Boracay Island could go beyond its six-month closure period, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Friday.
In a radio interview, Cimatu said the government needs more time to rehabilitate the world-famous island after discovering 43 illegal pipes on the island’s beachfront, a swimming spot for many tourists.
“I was expecting there was no pipe in that area,” he said.
Commercial establishments had put up the pipes without a permit from the local government, Cimatu said, adding they violated the 25 meters plus 5 meters no-build zone from the shoreline.
At least 100 Armed Forces members have been tasked to remove the illegal pipes and assist the Boracay inter-agency task force to be able to meet the reopening of the island.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay Island starting April 26 to give way to its rehabilitation for six months.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said the cleanup was seen to be extended beyond six months or until next year due to long-term projects, such as the relocation of several informal settlers.
According to Cimatu, the waters at the beachfront were found to have a high level of coliform, based on the findings of a technical team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau.