Good news for beach lovers! Boracay is no longer a cesspool, according to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
During a hearing of the House of Representatives’ natural resources committee held on Wednesday (July 11), Cimatu stated that Boracay is set to reopen on October 26, 2018.
According to Undersecratary Ernesto Adobo Jr., the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) timeline for the island’s clean up was on track.
Currently the DENR is waiting for the completion of the paving of the island’s roads and the demolition of illegal structures in the wetlands.
Boracay was closed to the general public on April 26 due to rising concerns of the environmental problems on the island.
Boracay was supposed to be closed for six months, but now, in only less than three months, the DENR seems confident that people will be able to enjoy the clear waters and white sand beaches of the island again. However, not everyone shares the DENR’s confidence.
It may also be recalled that one of the major environmental concerns that led to Boracay being called a cesspool in the first place was the island’s inadequate sewage system.
Boracay Island Water Co. (BIWC), which ran the island’s only centralized sewerage system, has raised concerns over a memorandum issued on June 26. DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2018-06 decommissioned the sewer line in the White Beach area due to contamination of the waters.
The circular further mandates that establishments in the area with more than 50 rooms would need to set up their own sewage treatment plants. Those with less rooms would have an option to share facilities.
So little time, so much to do
BIWC general manager Joseph Michael Santos expressed doubts that the resorts in the area would be able to have their own sewage treatment plants. He is appealing to Cimatu that 23 large establishments and 607 smaller ones be allowed to access the decommissioned sewer line for the time being.
He also stated that, if the island is reopened in October, BIWC would only be able to achieve a 30-percent connection with their sewage system as they still need to upgrade their old pipelines, lay new ones, and install new pumps.
Santos said it would take more then a year to connect all of Boracay’s establishments to their sewerage system. Currently only 61 percent of the island can be connected, with full coverage targeted for 2022.
Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves is also skeptical of an early opening for Boracay.
“I don’t care if it will last two years. Do not open Boracay unless everything is finished,” he said in interview on Rappler.
According to Teves, the plans for the early opening are murky, with the DENR having yet to determine the carrying capacity of the island.
Teves believes that the carrying capacity of the island must be determined, then the DENR should determine how many rooms would be allowed per hotel before allowing establishments to operate again and the island to be opened.