By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is “rushing” to complete the rehabilitation of Boracay Island within the allotted six-month period.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said this in reaction to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing 64 percent of Filipinos in favor of a one-year closure to give way to Boracay’s rehabilitation.
“We are rushing to complete the job within the six-month period given to us by the President. People are requesting for a one-year closure…but we will stick to plan,” Cimatu said.
He added that since the island’s temporary shutdown two months ago, the multi-agency task force headed by DENR is “on target” in its efforts to rehabilitate the island.
Last February, President Duterte deplored the deterioration of the world-famous ecotourism into a “cesspool.”
Cimatu said the government will be able to re-open Boracay to tourism activities by October, as planned.
In a related development, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol urged the members of the Ati tribe on Brgy. Manoc-manoc in Boracay Island to transform their 2.1 hectare-ancestral domain into an agri-tourism site.
“We want to uplift their lives and provide them access to government interventions,” Piñol said.
He initially committed ₱2 million financial support to the indigenous people and women’s groups of Boracay through the Survival Recovery credit program under DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
Under the credit facility, close to 80 families and households will each receive ₱25,000 to be used in the development of sustainable community livelihood projects.
“Aside from that, we also offer ₱5,000 up to ₱50,000 financing with only six percent interest rate every year under the Production Loan Easy Access program,” he explained.
Piñol also urged the tribe members to establish an organic vegetable garden, with the assistance of the Agricultural Training Institute.
For this, the DA’s Regional Field Unit 6-High Value Crops Development Program had already delivered sets of garden tools including water sprinklers, UV film, spade and spading fork, plastic drums, assorted vegetables seeds and other planting materials.
DA will also set up two solar-powered greenhouse facilities to enable tribe members to produce organic vegetables, which they can supply to restaurants, particularly to the proposed “Tumandok Eatery” that will offer tourists indigenous-organic dishes. (Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)