Task force adopts guidelines to protect Boracay vs tourist influx

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has adopted the proposed guidelines that aim to sustain and protect the world famous island once it reopens to tourists on October 26.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who chairs the task force, said the guidelines were laid down to ensure the rehabilitation works done during the past six months would not be set to naught.

“We cannot and will not let the influx of people destroy Boracay again or undo all the improvements and innovations that we have introduced and will be introducing,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief said the guidelines would be translated into resolutions by concerned government agencies and could also be adopted into ordinances by the local government.

The guidelines include a regulation on tourist arrivals and number of persons allowed to stay in Boracay, in accordance with the island’s carrying capacity.

A study on Boracay’s carrying capacity had been undertaken earlier by the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, together with the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna.

According to the study, the island’s daily carrying capacity is 54,945, broken down into 19,215 tourists and 35,730 non-tourists, which refer to residents, migrants and stay-in workers.

However, the same study showed that the island’s existing population of more than 70,700 had already exceeded the carrying capacity by almost 30 percent.

With non-tourists making up the bulk of the population, the task force has been evaluating a proposed relocation facility in mainland Aklan for island workers, as well as a system for their daily travel to and from Boracay.

The BIATF also agreed to the DENR’s requirement for installation of individual sewage treatment plants for beachfront establishments with 40 rooms and above, and for lodgings in other areas with 50 or more rooms.

Those with less than 50 rooms, meanwhile, could connect to sewer lines provided by the island’s two water concessionaires.

To decongest Boracay’s roads, the task force approved the use of electric vehicles, provision of sidewalks and prohibited obstructions on them, and identified separate routes for tourists and logistical vehicles with up to six wheels or a weight of one ton.

A moratorium on the construction of new establishments stays, while those with ongoing works can continue as long as they follow existing ordinances.

Water sports, including diving, have been suspended momentarily to allow the completion of assessment activities on the island’s marine biodiversity. Their resumption will later be regulated.

The BIATF likewise declared a zero-waste policy in Boracay, where no waste would be retained on the island, but collected daily for disposal at an approved facility on the mainland.

The body also declared a ban on casinos and online gambling on the island. ### 


Public warned vs. misleading info on cost of processing land title

The Land Management Bureau (LMB) has urged the public to ignore and stop sharing a Facebook post claiming that P50.00 is all it takes to secure a land title, calling it “misleading and erroneous.”

The post claims that those who wish to have their lands titled only need to pay an application fee of P50.00 or a “package fee” of P185, which includes the “application fee, stamp and clearance.”

It even cited an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the source of the information, probably to make the post look authentic.

LMB Director Emelyn Talabis said the information provided was “incomplete” even as she warned the public against sharing it.

“Sharing of information must be carefully verified to avoid misleading the public into having the wrong conclusion or generalization,” Talabis said.

According to Talabis, the standard land titling application fee of P50.00 had been increased to P60.00 since 2000 when then President Joseph Estrada issued an executive order raising fees and charges in government agencies by 20 percent.

She said the “package fee” of P185.00 mentioned in the FB post refers to “necessary fees such as documentary stamps, clearances, and affidavits from other agencies which must be paid and secured during or prior to the process of filing an application.”

At the same time, Talabis made some clarification as to the claim in the subject FB post that applicants do not have to pay as much as P20,000 to have their lands surveyed since land surveyors are already receiving salaries from government.

Talabis explained that the DENR has limited manpower and budget allocated for subdivision survey activities. This is why the agency offers the service on a “first come, first served” basis, she said.

She said those who cannot be accommodated by the agency may opt to have their lots surveyed by private geodetic engineers.

“Geodetic engineers have tariffs that they follow, and that payment for their services depends on the survey,” she pointed out.

Talabis added that other fees would have to be considered on some factors, such as the type of land and patent being applied for, as well as the mode of transfer of ownership like inheritance, donation, and purchase.

The applicant, she said, may also be required to pay other taxes or charges by other agencies involved in the titling process, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Register of Deeds.

Aside from fees, Talabis said an applicant may also be required to submit documents like marriage and/or death certificates, original title, power of attorney, proof of publication, approved plan and technical description of the land, proof of occupation, and judicial forms.

Talabis said the LMB has been flooded with inquiries since the misleading information on land title processing fees started circulating on FB.

LMB is a staff bureau of the DENR responsible for administering, surveying, managing and disposing alienable and disposable lands. ###


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