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Families affected by Boracay rehab to receive aid — Cimatu

INDIGENT families affected by the ongoing enforcement activities in Boracay will be provided aid and access to social safety nets.

This was assured by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu saying they need to balance their duty of strictly enforcing environmental laws on the island with social aspect.

Cimatu presided over the recently-held meeting of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) as chairman, wherein the update on the rehabilitation of world-renowned island resort Boracay was discussed.

As the BIATF completes its rehabilitation targets pursuant to an executive order issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, it will make sure that aid will be given to indigent families affected by the implementation of the easement laws in Boracay,” said Cimatu.

Cimatu added the families will be provided “cash assistance and relocation sites.

In the same meeting, General Manager Natividad Bernardino, head of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), reported that there are still 90 structures on the island that need to be demolished for violating the 25+5-meter beachfront easement rule.

In her report, Bernardino said the occupants of the illegal structures include 40 indigent families.

Bernadino added that a working group has been formed to assess the type of social assistance that each affected indigent family will need in terms of relocation and cash assistance.

The working group is composed of representatives from the BIARMG, DENR, the municipal government of Malay, Aklan, and chieftains of barangays Manoc-Manoc, Yapak and Balabag.

We provided the group with a list of families for profiling to determine and identify the social assistance they need,” Bernardino said.

Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores has assured that the provincial government will also extend help to the affected families, she added.

To ensure the completion of critical projects in Boracay, the BIATF has been authorized to undertake the demolition of remaining establishments encroaching on forestlands and wetlands, as well as enforce beach and road easement rules.

Meanwhile, Cimatu commended the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the series of successful operations it carried out in October and November that led to the eviction of big establishments illegally occupying the forestlands in barangays Balabag and Manoc-manoc.

The NBI has filed a complaint before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Aklan against the illegal occupants for violation of Presidential Decree (PD) 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, PD 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines, and Municipal Order 2000-131 which regulates the construction of buildings and other structures in Boracay.

The establishments have repeatedly ignored the notices to vacate, notices of demolition and show cause orders issued against them by authorities.