Residents of Aklan run on Boracay beach after being granted the privilege of taking the first steps on the island’s white sand during the soft opening yesterday.
Walter Bollozos
No longer a cesspool, Boracay now fit for swimming
Jennifer Rendon (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2018 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — World-famous Boracay was declared safe for swimming as the island resort reopened yesterday for a 10-day test run, almost six months after it was shut down for a massive cleanup.

“Boracay is no longer a cesspool but an island whose waters passed the standards fit for swimming,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who heads the Inter-Agency Task Force Boracay, said.

Heads of government agencies involved in Boracay’s rehabilitation attended the program dubbed “Aklan Day Salubungan,” ahead of the reopening of the island resort to tourists on Oct. 26.

Cimatu said the dry run would enable authorities to check the status of rehabilitation work on the island.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and  Undersecretary Arturo Boncato, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade attended the soft opening of Boracay yesterday.

The Department of Tourism will be in charge of overseeing the operations of Boracay after its rehabilitation is completed next year, the tourism chief said.

“President Duterte has instructed the Cabinet that after Boracay’s rehabilitation, the department will take over,” Puyat said.

She added this would be done through the issuance of an executive order.

Puyat said the reopening of Boracay on Oct. 26 is just the first phase of the island’s rehabilitation.

The second phase will be completed by April next year, and the third phase by December 2019.

Last week, the DOT announced that only 68 establishments were accredited to accept bookings for the reopening of the island.

It said online promotions and other related collaterals of non-compliant establishments should be put on hold until compliance with government regulations.

Despite its closure to tourists, Boracay was voted second best island in Asia by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.

“It is an honor that Boracay was voted once again in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. This serves as an invitation to the tourists to visit the island,” Puyat said in a statement.

Modern transport system

A modern integrated transport system will be launched in Boracay once the island resort resumes normal operations, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Environment-friendly jeepneys equipped with WiFi, closed-circuit television system, GPS, and an automated fare collection system will be part of the island’s integrated transport system.

The first four modern jeepneys will be offering free rides from Oct. 26 to December, according to the DOTr.

The DOTr also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the deployment of e-trikes in Boracay.

The DOE will donate 200 e-trikes under a deed of donation to be executed later on between the agency and the local government of Malay, Aklan.

The e-trikes are expected to be deployed starting Oct. 26.

“These vehicles will preserve the beautiful environment of Boracay. I call this day the resurrection of Boracay,” Tugade said.

According to Cimatu, habal-habal will be phased out and only e-trikes will be allowed in Boracay.

Cimatu cited the need to ban habal-habal since they contribute to pollution on the island.

He said they might adopt new routes for e-trikes.

President Duterte ordered Boracay’s closure on April 26 to give way to a massive rehabilitation of what he referred to as a “cesspool.” – With Richmond Mercurio, Catherine Talavera, Rhodina Villanueva

Related video:

10-DAY TEST RUN BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT BORACAY DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ROY CIMATU
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