DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano clarified that the DILG's proposal to declare a state of calamity in Boracay is for the purpose of hastening the mitigation response and rehabilitation efforts of the national government including the private sector and could warrant international assistance as may be deemed necessary.
"It's one of the options we're considering because there is concern that the plan to rehabilitate Boracay Island cannot be achieved under normal circumstances, meaning when normal commercial activities are in operation,” Ano said.
The DILG chief said that under Republic Act No. 10121 otherwise known as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010, the President is authorized to declare any cluster of barangays and other levels of local government units (LGUs) under a state of calamity, upon the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
“It (declaration of the state of calamity) will afford the national government and LGUs sufficient elbow room to utilize their respective calamity funds for the relief, recovery, and reconstruction of areas affected by human-induced calamities and pollution happening in Boracay,” said Ano.
Earlier, the President gave the DILG and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) six months to implement "immediate action" and fix all Boracay environmental issues.
Amidst the proposal of declaring a state of calamity in Boracay, the DILG Chief said that investigation is ongoing as to the culpability of local government executives in the ‘environmental crisis’ in Boracay. “Kakasuhan ang dapat kasuhan,” said Ano.
“The current initiative to save Boracay is a statement of the national government to Filipinos and the whole world that this administration is just as serious in its environmental reforms as with other priorities in peace and order,” he pointed out.
“Boracay, having been ranked among top-three beach destinations in the globe for a couple of times, does not only deserve to be maintained as world-class in its sand and water but in its overall package including public safety which will be looked into during the rehab efforts,” he added.
He, however, clarified that the proposed declaration of state of calamity would run for six months but the temporary closure of business operations in the three barangays composing the Island would, if necessary, be only be for 60 days.
DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco V. Densing III said that a drainage audit will be immediately done in Boracay once the state of calamity is declared in the three barangays to check improper connections and disposal of waste into the waters.
In his recent inspection in Boracay and meeting with local chief executives, he directed the municipal mayor of Malay to account for the utilization of environmental fees collected for the past 10 years while the three barangay captains of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag, and Yapak are told to come up with a six-month plan to rehabilitate their respective areas.
Densing said that the targeted halt of business operations in Boracay for 60 days during the suggested six-month state of calamity in the area would not be detrimental to tourism in Boracay.
“It would allow intentional and purposive breathing space for Boracay to heal itself from human-induced degradation. And now that the world knows about Boracay being cleaned up, there is an expected influx of local and international tourists when Boracay is reopened because they would want to see how has the Island improved,” he said.
Aside from Boracay, the DILG Chief said that other LGUs should now be on their toes in regulating and maintaining ‘environmental health’ of their beaches in their localities such as in El Nido in Palawan, Panglao in Bohol, and Siargao in Surigao del Norte.