By GENALYN D. KABILING
The presence of a whale shark in the waters of Boracay is an indication of the success of the government-led rehabilitation efforts in the island, Malacañang said Monday.
In a press conference in Cagayan de Oro, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque took pride that Boracay has pristine waters anew amid the ongoing major cleanup of the island that started last April.
“If you’re able to attract a whale shark, that means we must have pristine waters anew in Boracay. Congratulations to those involved in the rehabilitation of Boracay,” said Roque.
Local fishermen reportedly spotted a huge whale shark swimming in the waters of Boracay over the weekend, said to be the first time a whale shark was seen in Boracay since the polluted island was shut down to tourists last April.
The government has temporarily closed Boracay to allow rehabilitation works, including improvement of sewage systems and dismantling of illegal structure to restore its environmental beauty. The island is expected to be reopened in October.
President Duterte, who once described the island as a cesspool, intends to place Boracay under land reform and distribute the lands to the farmers and other locals once the rehabilitation period is over.
Meanwhile Duterte is asking residents of the island to allow the government to introduce reforms as part of the ongoing rehabilitation.
“Allow government to clean the place, right? It’s dirty,” he said during his speech at the recent inauguration of the Vista Mall in Oton, Iloilo.
The President will ask Congress to set a limit on the area for commercial use to avoid having excessive waste in the island.
“So ‘yung commercial trip, hanggang diyan lang because you know, you can only handle so much waste,” he said.
The government will give the land to the owners who have legal documents.
President Duterte said that the land is agricultural and he will give it to the “original people.”
“I-land reform ko lahat ‘yan,” he added.
On the issue of selling the acquired lands, the President said there’s a prohibition of about five to 10 years.
“One day, when the limitations are gone, then they can sell it,” he said. (PIA)