19 June 2018

Marine scientists and green groups weighed in on the government’s closure and rehabilitation of Boracay at a forum held at the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM) in UP Diliman. The forum was held at the eve of the second month of the closure of Boracay.

“The Duterte government rehabilitation program should be opened up to the scrutiny of environmental experts, community members, and people’s organizations to see how appropriate and effective the steps that they are doing to rehabilitate the island. We demand an independent investigation concerning the situation in Boracay Island,” said Clemente Bautista, spokesperson for the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment which co-organized the forum on Boracay.

At stake is the protection of the Boracay’s ecosystems such as the wetlands, forests, marine areas. The group batted for a pro-people and scientific rehabilitation plan aimed at addressing the environmental degradation brought about by government neglect, land grabbing, and commercialization in the area.

“The lack of transparency is very telling amid the continuing demolition and militarization of communities, closure of small businesses, displacement of workers,  and absence of democratic consultation on the matter. The planned casinos’ permits have not yet been revoked. It also does not help that the president himself recently said that the aim of so-called agrarian reform in the island is for the residents to be able to earn large sums from selling the land they’ll receive to big businessmen. That’s not rehabilitation, that’s privatization,” said Bautista.

Among the experts who shared their insights in the forum were Dr. Laura David, an oceanographer, and Dr. Miguel Fortes. Both are affiliated with the Marine Science Institute. #