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Gov’t vows to aid residents affected by Boracay closure

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Malay, Aklan has no concrete plan yet on the order to shutdown Boracay island.

Executive Assistant to the Mayor, Rowen Aguirre, said they have yet to detail how to assist the affected residents.

“Hindi kakayanin ng LGU ang magpoprovide ng financial assistance doon sa mga madidisplace. If there’s no economic acitivity, wala ring cash flow,” said Aguirre.

(The LGU cannot handle providing financial assistance to the displaced families. If there’s no economic activity, there’s also no cash flow.)

The national government vowed to provide P2-billion worth of cash for work assistance to the displaced workers.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the financial aid will go through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and will be distributed to residents who will help in the rehabilitation of the province.

Despite this, Arnel Pamal, who works as a chef, is worried especially as they are expecting their third baby.

“Sa mga casual magkakaroon talaga ng forced leave. Nag-uumpisa palang talaga. Malungkot kasi ma-close na uli kung kelan nag-umpisa na ako,” said Pamal.

(To  casual workers, there will be forced leave. I just started working. I’m sad because we are closing just when I started work.)

Myrna Prado, a massage therapist, is also worried about the fate of her 10 children who depend on her income alone.

“Wala na akong ibang hanapbuhay. Wala pang trabaho ang asawa ko,” she said.

(I have no other livelihood. My husband has no work.)

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is against the closure of Boracay island for half a year.

Gatchalian said that the timeframe is too long, noting the removal of illegal structures could be completed within just three months.

“The activities can be conducted by partial closure or a closure of different segments of Boracay,” said Gatchalian.

Sen. JV Ejercito, on the other hand, supports the government’s move to shut down the tourist spot but noted that it should be done in June to lessen its impact. — Robbie De Guzman | UNTV News & Rescue

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REPASO 2018: The Boracay story: Years of ‘cesspool’ to a paradise in months

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018


President Rodrigo Duterte on April 26, 2018 ordered a six-month closure of Boracay Island after reports of overpopulation, pollution and corruption turned the country’s top tourist destination into a ‘cesspool’.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool. It is destroying the environment of the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster,” the President said.

Environment investigators discovered poor sewage system with pipelines discharging wastewater directly to the sea.

What happened next to Boracay was a total overhaul – establishments within the 20-meter easement zone were demolished; drainages were replaced and repaired; roads were constructed and widened.

Thousands of workers and residents temporarily lost their sources of income as commercial establishments were barred from operating.

The government, meanwhile, provided alternative jobs for residents under the cash for work program.

While rehabilitation was ongoing, it was discovered that a portion of a mountain in the island was flattened to give way for the construction of a casino resort

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched an investigation.

But the local government maintained there was never been a plan to construct a casino in the island.

Early this year, Boracay made world headlines as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered its shutdown after declaring it a “cesspool” for years of mismanagement, over tourism, abuse, massive pollution and corruption.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool. It is destroying the environment of the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster,” the President said.

Government investigators found that most commercial structures had been operating without permits and violating environmental laws among others.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) deep penetrating radar revealed that 43 sites in the entire white beach area of Boracay Island were planted with illegal sewers.

More than 2,000 businesses and homes were illegally connected to the island’s sewage system, all pumping their waste water directly into the sea.

Pollution level at the beach was unprecedented as coliform contamination in Boracay waters already exceeded environmental standards for recreational water.

Seventeen (17) local officials of Aklan province were charged with graft, conduct unbecoming of public officials, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the services over irregularities in managing Boracay Island.

An inter-agency task force was created to manage the six-month rehabilitation works in the island starting off with the construction of a new sewerage and drainage system, communication lines and the main road.

After six months of closure and with environment laws and building codes now being enforced, only 68 hotels and resort lodgings are noted compliant, ready to accept bookings.

After days of dry run, the paradise Island of the Philippines is set to officially reopen its gates to tourists but…under stricter compliance guidelines.

Tourist arrivals have been limited to 6,400 each day.

The ‘no booking, no entry’ policy is strictly being imposed.

No smoking and drinking is allowed at the beach front.

No party events by the beach.

No loitering.

The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force hopes the improvements in Boracay will become a template for other rehabilitation works in various tourist spots in the country.

Today, rehabilitation works are still ongoing in Boracay.

The government aims at completing the rehabilitation in 2020. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from JL Asayo)


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Boracay’s compliant hotel and resorts reaches 296 – DOT

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018


Aerial shot of Boracay Island

BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – Only 150 hotels and resorts are allowed to operate in Boracay Island when it reopened on October 26 after its six-month rehabilitation.

However, before the year-end, the number of accredited and compliant hotels and resorts has reached to 296.

This is equivalent to 10, 247 rooms in accommodation establishments for tourists.

And as the government continues its rehabilitation efforts on the island, several changes were seen since it was reopened to tourists.

The concreting works at the main road of the island is close to completion particularly the path from Cagban Jetty Port to Bulabog area and some parts of Station 1.

Travel has been made easier as both lanes are now open at the main road.

There are also designated areas for souvenir shops and massage.

Because beach beds and umbrellas are not allowed at the beach front, tourists are placing towels on the sand for sun bathing and resting after swimming.

All water sports activities have resumed on Sunday (December 30) after they were cancelled due to Tropical Depression Usman last week.

The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force and the Malay Local Government installed solar lamps along the stretch of  the beach front at the white beach.

Aside from serving as main lighting source in the white beach, they also deter thieves and other lawless elements thus preventing  untoward incidents.

The task force also prohibits the use of fireworks in Boracay Island to protect the endangered species such as the golden-crowned flying fox,  the largest known species of bat.

Any kind firecracker is also prohibited on the island.

“Lahat ng mga paputok pinagbabawal po sa isla. May designated naman po tayo dun sa mainland. May area po dun isang barangay. Kung may fireworks man dun na lang i-operate,” said Malay-Aklan Acting Mayor Abram Sualog.

Meanwhile, the local government, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, BFP, PNP and volunteer groups are all-set to respond on any incident in the year-end revelry.

Malay government has advised the public to use alternatives to firecrackers in welcoming 2019. — Vincent Arboleda| UNTV News & Rescue

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Ice park featuring 39 ice sculptures to open in northeast China

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 28th, 2018


Ice sculptures in Songyuan City, Jilin Province, northeast China | Reuters

Winter‘s arrival may send shivers down the spine of people in Westeros, yet in northeast China’s Jilin Province, locals are standing on their tip-toes to expect an ice park covering 30,000 square meters to open on Friday.

The park will present 39 pieces of ice sculpture, with the tallest rising 21 meters above the ground. The giant pieces of artwork are carved into various shapes, such as visitor stands, dragon boats and towers.

Aside from ice sculptures, visitors many also enjoy other ice facilities such as ice slides and ice labyrinths.

Zhang Shengnian, who is in charge of the park’s construction work, says that the park this year has expanded in size compared with previous years.

“This year, the park expanded to twice as big as it was last year. This years’ ice volume also exceeded 15,000 cubic meters,” said Zhang.

This years’ temperature has remained higher than usual, so the making of the raw ice saw a week-long delay. To catch up with the schedule, workers have been working overtime since Dec. 9 to meet the deadline despite the doubled workload.

“The construction work is stressful. There are about 300 ice sculpture artists and ice constructors from Harbin and other workers in total. We would start our work at 06:00 and work more than 12 hours a day,” said Zhang.

The ice park is part of the 17th Chagan Lake Ice Fishing Culture Tourism Festival, which covers three sections: fish watching, snowscape sightseeing and folk custom experience. — Reuters

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