Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Tuesday (April 24) said the existing Boracay Master Plan will be reviewed and updated during the six-month closure to incorporate developments that would also cover nearby islands to boost tourism revenues in the Northern Aklan region. 

Updating the old Boracay Master Plan is part of the ‘first aid’ measures the DENR is implementing to solve the woes of the world-famous island destination.   

“We intend to revisit the Boracay Master plan to incorporate it into a more comprehensive Northern Aklan master plan which will hasten the development of Caticlan, Malay, and Carabao island and radiate it to the nearby areas possibly including Romblon,” Cimatu said during the launch of 'Tayo ang Kalikasan' People's Stewardship movement in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

Boracay Island will be closed for six months beginning April 26 to give way to rehabilitation activities, including the demolition of structures situated in the wetlands. 

“Within that period, we intend to put in place what we might call the ‘First aid’ solution to Boracay’s problems: among others, putting the sewage and solid waste systems in place; demolish illegal structures, whether big or small – in the foreshore, on wetlands, in forest lands or even within road easements; set up rules and regulations to keep Boracay safe, including the use of jetty ports, vehicles and other means of transport, the entry and exit of people and the like. And of course, the governance of the place,” Cimatu said. 

During the island’s closure, the Environment chief also said a thorough review of the tourism program of Boracay Island will also be reviewed by the inter-agency task force who will also lock heads in the formulation of new attractions. This will include cultural shows and historical tours in the island and neighboring towns or cities with rich cultural heritage. 

Careful consideration for the island’s original inhabitants, the Atis,  will also be implemented during the rehabilitation phase so they will not feel out of place even as developments in their beloved island are set in place. 

Cimatu assured everyone that a cleaner and livelier Boracay Island will unfold once the work has been completed. He said ‘healing’ Boracay from the grudges of unbridled tourism is a must so future generations will still be able to experience its beauty. 

“Boracay Island was left with the problem of sewage, solid waste and other pollutive activities to the tender mercies. They let greed and neglect, as President Duterte so emphatically noted, turn this jewel into a ‘cesspool’. So now, we have to rehabilitate it to let it breathe and to let it live,” Cimatu said. ###

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