Of the 2,300 establishments in Aklan’s Boracay Island, only 180 of which or 7.8 percent have fulfilled the requisites of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said based on latest figures, only 180 establishments have complied with the directives.
DENR earlier promised to the Senate that 30 percent of the 2,300 commercial establishments in the island would be ready to operate and welcome tourists on Oct. 26.
But barely a month before the island’s reopening, only 7.8 percent of the businesses have complied.
“We will be discussing with the Department of Tourism and Department of the Interior and Local Government to finalize the list,” Leones said.
The department is now validating and processing the compliance requirements of the other 2,120 business establishments.
“We still have to validate their documents. The 180 establishments have [already] undergone the process,” he said.
Leones said he hopes to complete the evaluation of the applications of the over 2,000 businesses before the scheduled Oct. 15 dry run.
DENR has put up a one-stop shop to assist business operators to comply with all the necessary requirements.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, however, said business owners would still need the approval of the Department of Tourism for accreditation.
In April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of the Boracay Island to address its environmental woes for the next six months.
Meanwhile, President Duterte’s Cabinet has adopted several recommendations for the capacity assessment of Boracay in time for the island’s reopening on October, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the interagency looking at the carrying capacity assessment of Boracay said on Tuesday evening that there is an excess in hotels and available rooms, solid waste generated, and existing non-tourist population in the island.
“There is, however, sufficient water supply and insufficient wastewater treatment facilities,” said Roque.
He added that the following are some of the recommendations which were adopted: 1) maintain the tourism carrying capacity of 19,215 persons per day, including 6,405 tourist arrivals per day; 2) evaluate the feasibility of utilizing the extra available rooms; 3) promote wetlands utilization for filtering out waste from both soil and water through plant uptake; 4) maximize open spaces for vegetation and minimize point source pollution; 5) use the Information, Education, and Communications approach especially on both solid waste and liquid waste management and 6) minimize coastal erosion and establish permanent monitoring facilities in designated areas.
“So, the most important is that they assess, that the carrying capacity for Boracay is 19,215 persons per day, including 6,405 tourist arrivals per day,” said Roque.
Weeks before its official reopening to the public, the municipal council of Malay in Aklan province passed an ordinance banning the single-use plastics in the entire town.
Municipal Ordinance No. 386, authored by Councilor Nenette Aguirre-Graf, prohibits the use of disposable plastic items commonly used by hotels, resorts, and restaurants.
Prohibited single-use plastics included non-reusable bottles, cups, bags, Styrofoam packs, shampoo sachets, disposable toothbrush, combs, and plastic utensils.
The use of non-plastic dispensers such as shampoo, conditioner, and liquid body soap is also discouraged as these items were the cause for clogged drainage systems and polluted waters.
Boracay Island will reopen on October 26 as targeted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III.
As this developed, Senator Cynthia Villar has expressed doubts that the DENR 30 percent compliant establishments during the reopening of Boracay after it said that only 180 out of the the 2,300 establishments in the islands have complied with the requirements.
During the deliberations of the 2019 proposed budget of the DENR amounting to P24.17 billion, Villar asked Secretary Cimatu of the agency was capable of meeting its projection with only 44 days before Boracay resumes its operation.
“’This 180 is only 7.8 percent of 2,300. You earlier told us that 30 percent of the establishments will be compliant with the requirements. We even found that small and now, you’re telling us that today, there are only 180 (establishments) compliant,” Villar said.
Cimatu said that the 180 establishments have fully complied with the required waste water sewage system as they already have their own treatment plan, drainage system and solid waste management. He said they had also secured their own permits and accreditation for tourism purposes.
But after complying with their requirements, he said the business owner still has to go to the DOT for accreditation.
He said the DENR has set up a one-stop shop to help the establishments comply with the requirements.
Usec Leones, however, clarified that some 2,000 establishments have already submitted their compliance requirements but these are now in the process of evaluation.
He said they still have to validate their documents. “The 180 are establishments which have undergone the process.”
He hopes to finish the evaluation of 2,000 applications before the planned dry run on October 15.
“Based on latest figures, there are 180 compliant establishments but these include only compliance on environment and land requirement. We will be discussing with the DOT (Department of Tourism) and Department of Interior and Local Government) to finalize the list,” he said.
In an interview after the hearing, Villar also said she doubts if the DENR can meet its projection. She expects it to be only 15 percent or half of its projecrion to meet the requirements.
Asked if Boracay is ready for the opening, including the quality of its water, she said this can be tested during the dry run.
“Of course, the water is already clean because it was close to the public, no people around,” she said.