Aerial shot of Boracay
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – Only a few hotels and resort lodgings were able to comply with the requirements for the reopening of Boracay Island on Friday (October 26).
From more than 400 hotels and resorts, only 157 were able to open after securing permits and environmental compliance certificates for passing the government’s building standards and sewage system requirements.
Construction materials are still visible around Boracay as rehabilitation works are expected to run six more months before completion.
Some establishment owners were compelled to demolish their own structures especially those located within the 30-meter easement zone from the beachfront.
Some of them complained about the waiver that is being required of them before the reopening.
Residential inn owner, Elma Vergara, whose business just opened in March one month before President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay, said she was being asked to sign a waiver, otherwise her business would be closed down. This, despite having the necessary permits for reopening.
“If I sign the waiver, it’s like suicide for me because it’s like my land will no longer be mine. It’s like turning over all my property to the government. What will happen to me? I worked in Europe for 24 years to make a living for my family, then this is what will happen to us?” said Vergara.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) explained, however, that Boracay is government-owned and the waiver does not constitute land grabbing.
“The waiver of undertaking is just in case for the future, the government needs the road they’re on, you will pose no objection on that, that you will give [your land] because that is really the government’s. Now, if you don’t sign, then we will not let you operate because the land is the government’s. We are not grabbing their land,” explained DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda.
Antiporda added that “the government is only ensuring that whatever is in Boracay serves the people and not just a few businessmen.” – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)