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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Oct 20, 2018

Boracay: A case of political will

Before the six-month closure, coliform bacteria in Bolabog reached as high as one million most probable number (MPN) per 100 ml. The streets were so narrow, cars could not pass through. Pedestrians competed with pedicabs, tricycles in whatever little space was left in the street. There were no sidewalks. Establishments encroached on the shoreline — with some section left with barely any sand.

Six months after, water quality has significantly improved — with a recorded value of only 19 to 20 MPN/100 ml, according to Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu. This is even lower that the acceptable threshold of 100 MPN/100 ml for swimming areas and 200 MPN/100 ml for areas of non-contact sport.

A total of 1,438 structures which had been built within easement areas have been removed. The streets which were once too narrow for cars to even enter can now accommodate two-way traffic. PWD-friendly sidewalks have been constructed for pedestrians. Tourists will now enjoy a wider beach front following the imposition of a rule requiring a 30-meter easement from the water ’s edge.

At the onset, critics pointed out that Boracay beach closure seem to be a drastic move — an isolated strategy. But the statement is nothing but a myth.

When I visited Florida as part of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) — I learned that beach closures were part of a standard operating procedure relevant to Algal Bloom Monitoring. Recently, it closed Jupiter Beaches in Palm Beach County and Hobe Sound Beach and Bathtub Beach in Martin County.

In the State of Rhode Island, the moment the concentration of Enterocci bacteria in beach water exceeds 60 colony forming units per 100 ml, they issue a temporary closure. In 2018 alone, there were at least 40 beach closures in Rhode Island, including Briar Point Beach in Coventry, Camp Beach, in Kingston, Bristol Town Beach, Oakland Beach in Warwick, and Sandy Point Beach in Porstmount. More recently, Thailand’s Maya Bay, made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s film “The Beach” was also closed indefinitely.

When Boracay opens this October 26, Department of Public Works Secretary Mark Villar noted that Phase 1 of the 4.1-km Boracay Circumferential Road and Flood Control Project will open.

Now, the alignment which was recovered after full implementation of the 12-meter road setback rule will have a dual function as a traffic mitigation measure and a flood control project.

The roadway plan, which includes the installation of a total of 1,273 pieces of high-density polyethylene pipes (HDPE), construction of loading and unloading bays, sidewalks, and plant strips, will be fully accessible by December.

As of October 18, 87% of the the 3.5 km of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drainage pipes had been installed in the first section spanning 2.66 km from Cagban Port to Hue Hotel while 80% of the 1.8 km of HDPE pipes in the second section spanning 1.412 km from Hue Hotel to Elizalde Compound have already been put in place.

The missing gap of the Boracay Circumferential Road is also at 90%.

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