By Jun N. Aguirre
The Boracay Inter Agency Task Force (BIATF) is awaiting the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte on its fate as the agency’s term expires in May of this year.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu who chairs the BIATF said that it is only President Duterte who could decide whether they would continue their duties in rehabilitating this resort island after May 2020.
Duterte signed Executive Order No. 53 which created the task force on May 8, 2018. According to government policy, each task force created should only have a term limit of two years from its creation. The BIATF is also composed of different government agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Department of Tourism, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Labor, Bureau of Immigration, and the Local government of Malay among others.
The task force led the closure of the island to tourists for six months from April 26 to October 26, 2018 and implemented laws and regulations especially those related to the environment.
“Only President Duterte can decide whether we could continue after our term expires or not. There is this pending Boracay Island Development Authority law pending in Congress but we do not expect it to be approved soon. We will abide by whatever is the decision of the President,” Cimatu told the Boracay Sun News.
Given just a few months left before the expiration of the BIATF’s term, Cimatu urges fast-tracking rehabilitation efforts on Boracay Island, including the construction of roads and the drainage systems. Sources said that among the hindrances to ongoing efforts are a lack of equipment and facilities that are not readily available in Boracay.
For his part, Malay acting mayor Floribar Bautista said, “We are cooperating with the task force since day one of my term and we will continue to cooperate with the task force.”