Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu answers questions during an inspection in Boracay Island.
A video posted by an anonymous Boracay resident has gone viral for supposedly capturing an ongoing excavation that resulted in the flattening and deforestation of a mountain in Barangay Yapak.
This led residents to question the rehabilitation efforts of the government while some turned to social media to seek explanation for the leveling activities.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued a statement on Wednesday, May 16, to clarify speculations.
READ: The Press Statement of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on the alleged flattening of a mountain in Boracay
“Facebook posts by netizens regarding the alleged flattening of a mountain near the eco-village multi-purpose gym in Boracay have reached my office.
“Like everyone else, we are also deeply bothered by such acts of total disregard of the government’s effort to rehabilitate Boracay.
“Reports from our field office indicated, however, that said flattening of mountain was conducted prior to the Boracay closure and has since been stopped.
“To be clear to all that we mean business in the enforcement of environmental laws, rules and regulations, I have ordered, with the concurrrence of the Boracay inter-agency task force, a total stoppage of all constructions of any kind effective immediately.
“I have also ordered a moratorium on the issuance of DENR permits, including but not limited to Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), tree cutting permit, except those relating to on-going road widening project by DPWH, and other licenses.
“Certainly, we welcome feedback from the public. Your opinion and suggestions do matter to us.
“We are appealing to each and every one, however, that when you make any report or post anything online, these should be verified first so as not to cause any misunderstanding.”
Palace set to release EO for Boracay land reform program – DAR
FILE PHOTO: An aerial shot of Boracay Island taken during the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) aerial inspection with members of the UNTV News Team
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) already submitted to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary its proposed guidelines in distributing Boracay lands to farmers.
“This will be calendared soon sa (at the) Cabinet meeting and this will be presented to the president for the specific recommendation of the executive order pertaining to Boracay alone. And with that we hope that we will be able to clear and have a specific guidelines on the way agrarian reform program in Boracay has to be implemented,” said Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Atty. John Castriciones.
With this, Secretary Castriciones said the president might release this week an executive order to speed up the process of land reform in the island.
Castriciones noted that the president wants to immediately distribute the land in Boracay which then warrants the removal of illegal structures built there.
DAR is currently conducting surveys, inspections and farmer identification on the island.
“If there is no law giving justification on why they are allowed there, we will take measures to include those areas to be distributed to farmers,” said the Agrarian Secretary.
The government has estimated that 25 hectares of land may be distributed to members of the Ati tribe to improve their lives.
Meanwhile, the DAR secretary revealed that the government is offering affordable housing units to farmers.
The housing units can be bought at lower prices and are payable within 30-years with the help of other agencies like Pag-IBIG and Landbank.
Around 2.8 million farmers are expected to benefit from the program.
There are model houses in Bayumbong, Nueva Vizcaya, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, Argao, Cebu and Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
Castriciones said farmers just need to show their proof of income from farming to avail of the said program. — Cathy Maglalang
DSWD suspends conditions of 4Ps for beneficiaries in Boracay
Displaced Boracay workers who availed of the government’s cash-for-work program
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) eased the conditions of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) cash grants to residents displaced by the rehabilitation of Boracay Island.
“Usually hindi na iyan sila makaka-attend ng conditionalities dahil apektado na ang kanilang hanapbuhay. They have to look for another hanapbuhay so my suspension ang kanilang conditionalities,” said Rose San Agustin, Social Welfare Officer V of DSWD Region 6.
It is the mandate of DSWD to suspend the conditions of the cash grant in the event of a calamity. At present, there are around six hundred 4Ps beneficiaries in Boracay. Agustin clarified that the suspension of conditions is just temporary.
“Just for the closure lang but it doesn’t mean na sinuspende ang kanilang conditionalities forever na usually balik na yan sa normal after buksan ulit ang Boracay,” Agustin added.
A qualified family is entitled to a health grant of P500 per month. Children of a beneficiary are entitled to an educational grant amounting to P300 per month for a period of ten months for elementary students and P500 per month for high school students. The educational grant covers up to three children.
Aside from monetary assistance, the family also receives P600 worth of rice subsidy per month.
Likewise, DSWD awarded several 4Ps beneficiaries affected by the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law with P2,400 unconditional cash transfers each. Aside from 4Ps, affected residents may also avail DSWD’s cash for work and sustainable livelihood program. – Lalaine Moreno | UNTV News & Rescue
Boracay Rehabilitation: 229 establishments demolished
Boracay road widening project
BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the local government of Malay have brought down 229 establishments in Boracay in line with the 12-meter road-widening project.
DPWH said they are rushing the demolition works as they only have one month to complete the road clearing operation which includes water lines, electric posts and coconut trees that affect the road widening project.
According to record of the local government, there are 579 establishments in three barangays that need to be cleared. However, the agency admitted they could only clear those from Cagban Port to Balabag Yapak boundary given the six-months time so they appeal for the public’s cooperation.
“Pipilitin po naming matapos. Ang importante lang po rito mag-cooperate po lahat ng mga stakeholders na matulunga kami,” Aklan District Engineer Noel Fuentebella said.
(We will do our best to finish it. What’s important is the stakeholders cooperation in our efforts.)
DPWH has allotted P490 million for the Phase 1 of the project which covers 5.26-kilometer road.
Road widening works will begin once the clearing operation is finished by end of May. Those who would refuse to provide a right of way will be referred to the LGU for appropriate action.
“Second week pa lang namin ngayon marami na kaming na-demolish. Binigay namin ang mga contact number namin na if they want, willing po kaming tawagan kami and we will schedule it para matulungan sila,” Fuentebella said.
(It’s only our second week but we have already demolished a lot. We gave our contact numbers to [establishments] so they can call us for any help and we will schedule it.)
– Lalaine Moreno | UNTV News & Rescue