If Boracay Island has been closed for six months to undergo environmental rehabilitation, why is a forested mountain being leveled using heavy equipment here?
Residents of Barangay Yapak at the northern end of the 1,032-hectare island are raising this question after a resident posted a photograph and videos of the clearing and leveling of the mountain.
“Houses are being demolished because these were allegedly on forest land and business operators are losing millions of pesos because of the closure. So why is this happening?” a resident told the INQUIRER.
The resident asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
It was unclear what the purpose of the forest clearing and mountain leveling was and whether or not the activities had been authorized by the local government and the interagency task force on the rehabilitation of the island.
It sought an explanation and information from lawyer Richard Favila, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources in Boracay. Favila said he was investigating the reports but declined to further provide information.
Those in Yapak village said these have been going on even before April 26, when the island was closed down to tourists for rehabilitation.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Interior and Local Government earlier said construction activities would be suspended during the six-month closure of the island.
Only minor renovation and upgrading of existing structures would be allowed. Demolition and construction activities would also be allowed if these were done to comply with the 30-meter beach easement and 12-meter road easement.
“Day and night, work there goes on. There was an entire mountain covered with trees before. Now only about half is left and the trees are being cleared,” a resident said.
Even from a distance, the areas cleared of forests are visible leaving a white patch on half of the mountain that has been leveled and also part of the remaining area.
The resident said a backhoe and several large trucks were being used to level the mountain located at the back of the Boracay Ecovillage Resort and Convention Center.
Residents said the area is privately owned.