Secretary Roy A. Cimatu considers the successful rehabilitation of Boracay Island as the “single biggest accomplishment” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2018.

The DENR, along with several other government agencies, devoted much of its time, effort and resources this year to carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to clean up the world-famous island he once called a “cesspool.”

“What we have done in Boracay could well serve as one of the DENR’s best legacies. May nagawa tayo pero hindi tayo hihinto,” Cimatu told DENR employees during their recent annual gathering.

After seeing the results, Cimatu said that all the efforts poured into by the DENR and other government agencies during the six-month rehabilitation period were worth it.

Cimatu said he hopes to replicate the success of the Boracay rehabilitation in the heavily polluted Manila Bay.

“I am an optimist through and through, I am sure that Manila Bay will be better off in December next year,” Cimatu said.

Earlier, Cimatu said he was keen to have Manila Bay rehabilitated, restored and maintained to a level fit for swimming, skin diving and other contact forms of recreation.

He promised to employ the same strategy used in Boracay to rid Manila Bay of wastes and pollutants.

During the first phase of Boracay rehabilitation, hotels and resorts caught directly pumping out their sewage into the sea were fined and required to put their own sewage treatment facilities.

The Boracay wetlands, which play an important role in absorbing excess rainfall to prevent flooding and are home to native and migratory wildlife, were cleaned and recovered from illegal settlements and structures.

The inter-agency task force, which Cimatu chairs, will continue to rehabilitate Boracay’s ecosystems, which include a variety of native flora and fauna like the critically endangered golden crowned flying fox, molave, bankal, marine turtles, puka shells, mangroves and different species of birds.

The DENR hopes to maintain the sustainable tourism management approach in Boracay, which could serve as a model for other coastal areas in the country and the region. ###