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Relocation sites eyed for Boracay wetland residents

ILOILO CITY – Residents whose houses sit atop wetlands at world-famous Boracay Island in Malay town, Aklan province can be relo­cated to any of the four identified sites.

Jim Sampulna, Western Visayas regional director of the Depart­ment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said these are located in mainland Malay town as well as the neighboring towns of Nabas and Ibajay.

More than halfway to the six-month closure of the resort island, the issue of relocating affected residents is still a challenge for the government-led rehabilitation program.

DENR wants to recover all of Boracay’s wetlands, which were illegally reclaimed with the rise of tourism in the country’s most popular beach destination.

While some wetlands were turned into commercial buildings, others became residential spaces that catered to the growing num­ber of people who relocated to the resort island for work.

It is estimated that 300 house­holds are affected by the govern­ment’s move to reclaim Boracay’s wetlands.

The Mines and Geosciences Bu­reau (MGB), an attached agency of DENR, checked the integrity of the four identified relocation sites.

Sampulna emphasized they wanted to make sure the reloca­tion sites are safe and not prone to landslides or any other geo-hazards.

DENR previously also identified other potential relocation sites, but MGB found the areas to be risky.

Of the four identified sites, the one in mainland Malay town is almost ready to cater to affected residents. (Tara Yap)