Despite visible improvements, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said a lot more needs to be done to completely rehabilitate and ensure the sustainability of the world-famous Boracay Island.

Cimatu said that while the resort island is “no longer a cesspool,” there is no reason for government and other stakeholders to be complacent.

“This is not the time for us to relax and lower our guards,” Cimatu said on the first day of the 11-day dry run for the much-awaited reopening of Boracay later this month.

“While much has been gained already, still a lot remains to be done and we still ask for your extended patience, support and understanding,” he added.

Cimatu, who heads the inter-agency task force in charge of Boracay’s rehabilitation, cited the ongoing road and drainage improvement projects, which were delayed due to successive typhoons.

“We lost about 30 to 40 days of work but we will be able to compensate for this and finish the drainage system,” Cimatu explained.

The environment chief said that all projects will continue even after Boracay’s soft opening slated for October 26.

“Rehabilitation will continue after October 26. We are just in Phase 1,” he stressed.

Cimatu led other officials of government agencies involved in the rehabilitation of Boracay in welcoming Aklanons who were the first guests in the newly- rehabilitated island which he described as a “better Boracay”.

Boracay, he said, was no longer a cesspool and tourists can once again enjoy its pristine waters.

He gladly announced that Boracay waters are already fit for swimming based on the standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“We offer to you now a better Boracay,” Cimatu said. “Boracay beaches are now a sight to behold and the entire island will even be grander in the near future.”

Famous for its powdery white sand, pristine blue waters and amazing sunsets, Boracay has been named several times as one of the best beaches in the world.

But on April 26, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Presidential Proclamation No. 475 ordering the closure of Boracay to tourists for six months to pave the way for its rehabilitation from environmental damage caused by overdevelopment. ###