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Boracay residents in no-build zones told to leave

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Boracay residents in no-build zones told to leave
At least 28 families composed of informal settlers received eviction notices, which would be implemented in the coming months, according to DSWD officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco.
Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Several families living in Boracay’s no-build zones have received notices to vacate their homes as part of the government’s plan to rehabilitate the island, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said yesterday.

At least 28 families composed of informal settlers received eviction notices, which would be implemented in the coming months, according to DSWD officer-in-charge Emmanuel Leyco.

The DSWD-Western Visayas has met with representatives of different government agencies to discuss measures on how to assist the affected families.

“We’ll continue our efforts to determine the needs of the informal settlers such as relocation and initial assistance,” Leyco said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Boracay residents living in properties classified as forestlands would be served eviction notices and given enough time to relocate.

“The fact that they’ve been living in the area for decades does not make their stay legal and right. These are forestlands they are occupying, which shouldn’t be used for residential purposes. This issue will be discussed with the legal team so necessary assistance can be extended to them,” DENR Undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs Jonas Leones said, referring to the informal settlers.

He said the agency would look into how the forestlands became residential and commercial sites.

Leones said the DENR is coordinating with the DSWD for any help that can be provided to the affected residents.

Of the 28 families who received eviction notice, 15 are covered by the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Leyco vowed to provide support for those who would be affected by the Boracay closure.

“We want to get a firm understanding of the situation on the ground so the preparations for those who will be affected by the closure will be adequate and effective,” he said.

The DSWD earlier said it would activate two operation centers in Aklan – in Boracay and Malay – which will process the assistance and emergency welfare services for the families.

The center in Boracay will be upgraded into a one-stop shop that will provide services coming from other government agencies.

“The programs and services of the DSWD are not enough to provide all the needs of the people who will be affected by the closure. This is the reason why we established the one-stop shop, to converge all the services of different government agencies, especially in matters pertaining to health, employment and education,” Leyco said.

At least 2,300 families covered by the government’s 4Ps will be affected by the Boracay closure, according to the DSWD.

The DSWD field office recommended a P34-million budget for a cash-for-work program for affected workers. 

Another P193 million is needed to provide skills training for micro-enterprise development and employment facilitation.

Disappointed

Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders in Boracay were disappointed by what they described as the government’s lack of a comprehensive or master plan for the island’s rehabilitation.

Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, said the inter-agency task force on the rehabilitation of Boracay failed to answer their queries during a meeting and presentation of the island’s condition yesterday.

“Nothing was resolved. Too many questions were left unanswered,” Clemente told The STAR. –  With Robertzon Ramirez, Rhodina Villanueva   

BORACAY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND DEVELOPMENT NO-BUILD ZONES
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