(File photo)

MANILA – The '25 + 5-meter easement rule' enforced by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) on structures in the island has so far a compliance rate of 73 percent, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

During the BIATF virtual presser in Boracay on Wednesday, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reported that out of the 339 structures on the island, 249 have complied.

DENR director Natividad Bernardino said there are around 90 establishments and residential structures that have not complied with the easement law until this time.

“These are mostly residential structures of informal settlers in Barangay Manoc Manoc. For commercial establishments, 20 na lang yung hindi pa compliant (there are only 20 left that are non-compliant),” Bernardino said.

Cimatu said that the BIATF will still discuss the relocation plans for those affected by the enforcement of the 25 + 5-meter easement rule.

Meanwhile, Cimatu also reported that in October and November, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) together with the Task Force made arrests in Mt. Luho.

“The National Bureau of Investigation, with the Task Force, through the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group conducted operations against 9 establishments occupying protected forestlands in violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code and PD 1067 or the Philippine Water Code,” Cimatu said.

He added that appropriate cases have already been filed which proves that the rule of law is paramount and that the enforcement of the law is crucial and non-negotiable.

Lawyer Rizaldo Rivera of the NBI said they acted upon the request of Bernardino.

“According to the CENRO (City Environment and Natural Resources Office), PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office), and DENR and the TF, there were still confirmed violators, hardcore violators, they were issued notices to vacate, a notice of demolition, show cause order, and none of them complied with the request of the national government,” he said.

Rivera said the NBI presented pieces of evidence and filed appropriate charges before the Provincial Prosecutors' Office.

Currently, Cimatu said they have already recovered five out of the nine wetlands in Boracay island.

“Wetlands are important to the island because this helps reduce soil erosion and store water to minimize the impacts of flooding. Of the nine wetlands, we have now recovered five. These are wetland numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu added that in November, the DENR recorded the lowest coliform level in Boracay waters at 6.8 most probable number per milliliter from their ambient stations located in New Coast Boracay, Movenpick, Steve’s Cliff, and at the front beach grotto. (PNA)