85 families in wetlands to be relocated outside Boracay

AKLAN, Philippines – As part of the government's rehabilitation plan, a total of 85 families illegally living in wetlands in top tourist spot Boracay will be relocated outside the island. 

Part of the environment department's mandate is to relocate and demolish all structures and establishments occupying forest lands, wetlands, and other bodies of water that violate environment laws.

"The families will be relocated in town of Malay. We will put up a tent city. A total of 85 families can move anytime next week," Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Saturday, May 26. (READ: Boracay may open in less than 6 months – DENR chief)

Cimatu earlier said his department will reclaim wetlands in Boracay which illegal settlers and business establishments have encroached on. The department has since served notices of violation, cease and desist orders, and demolition notices.

There are 9 identified wetlands in Boracay, but 5 have illegal structures built on it. The 85 families occupied Wetland No. 5 in Talipapa Bukid at Station 2.

As the relocation site will be outside Boracay, the environment department is currently studying how to relocate the 85 families to Sitio Corong in Barangay Cogon, Malay.

The provincial government has offered a portion of the Caticlan reclamation area as a temporary staging area where the families can stay, pending the development of the relocation houses.

According to Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, San Miguel Corporation will help in rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation efforts for the said wetland.

San Miguel Corporation will also set up 100 tents, and provide basic facilities for the families.

With the proposed set-up, establishments will be required to put temporary staff houses for the workers who will be relocated to mainland Aklan. Otherwise, workers would have to cross the waters daily.

"[Workers] must leave the island and stay in mainland Malay after their work in Boracay," Miraflores said.

President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the closure of the popular tourist destination during a Cabinet meeting on April 4, around two months after he had first declared his intent to do so during a speech in Davao City.

He called Boracay a "cesspool" because of the island's environmental problems.  Rappler.com