GOOD MORNING, MY FELLOW WORKERS IN GOVERNMENT. WELCOME TO THE THIRD BORACAY INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE MEETING.

I FEEL ELATED BY THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OUR REHABILITATION EFFORTS HERE IN BORACAY BY NO LESS THAN PRESIDENT RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE IN HIS STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS LAST MONDAY. I KNOW YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY, TOO.

THE PRESIDENT’S REMARKS THAT “OUR ACTIONS IN BORACAY MARK THE BEGINNING OF A NATIONAL EFFORT” AND THAT “OTHER TOURIST DESTINATIONS NEEDING URGENT REHABILITATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND OTHER LAWS WILL FOLLOW SOON” – IS, OF COURSE, ANOTHER STORY, ANOTHER CHALLENGE THAT WE CAN DISCUSS VERY SOON.

NEVERTHELESS, MAY I POINT OUT FOR NOW THAT WE IN DENR, HAVE ACTUALLY STARTED LOOKING INTO THE ENVIRONMENTAL SITUATION OF OTHER EQUALLY-FAMOUS TOURIST DESTINATIONS, LIKE PANGLAO IN BOHOL, SIARGAO, EL NIDO IN PALAWAN, AND MANY MORE SITES IN THE COUNTRY THROUGH OUR REGIONAL OFFICES.

THE GROWING COLLABORATION AMONG THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, STAKEHOLDERS AND THE DENR TO RESTORE THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY OF THESE TOURIST DESTINATIONS IS A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT TO EVERYONE, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHOSE LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD DEPEND ON THESE TOURISM SITES.

GOING BACK TO BORACAY, WE ARE NOW JUST THREE (3) MONTHS AWAY FROM THE AGREED REOPENING OF BORACAY IN OCTOBER.

AS OUR DEADLINE FOR THE REOPENING OF BORACAY GETS NEAR, MY VIEW IS THAT OUR REHABILITATION EFFORT MUST AND SHOULD CONTINUE.

ALONG WITH OUR PUSH FOR THE PHYSICAL RECOVERY OF BORACAY, WE SHOULD PUSH EVEN HARDER FOR THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGE, FOR THE MENTAL CHANGE IN THE MINDSET OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS HERE. A CHANGE THAT IS ANCHORED UNDER THE PRINCIPLE OF MUTUAL AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITY IN THE PRESERVATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT OF BORACAY.

WE MUST EMPHASIZE THAT FROM HEREON WHAT OUR PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT DUTERTE ALSO MENTIONED DURING HIS 3RD SONA -- THAT WHEN IT COMES TO THE ENVIRONMENT, WE SHOULD NOW BE CONSCIOUS OF OUR INTER-GENERATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, ESPECIALLY AT THE LOCAL OR GRASSROOTS LEVEL.

THE RIGID CASH REGISTER MENTALITY THAT IS DEVOID OF ANY CONCERN FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IS WHAT MADE BORACAY A NEAR DISASTER AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PREVAIL AGAIN IF IT IS WITHIN OUR AUTHORITY TO DO SO.

TANDAAN NATIN – HIGIT SA PERA, ANG KINABUKASAN ANG NAKATAYA DITO. KINABUKASAN NG ATING SUSUNOD NA HENERASYON.

THUS, ALONG WITH SUSTAINED INFORMATION CAMPAIGN ON THE IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, BOTH IN THE SHORT AND LONG TERM, WE HAVE TO ENSURE THAT EVERY ESTABLISHMENT, WHETHER BIG OR SMALL, EVERY RESIDENT OF THIS ISLAND, AND EVERY TOURIST – FOREIGN OR LOCAL – ARE FOLLOWING AND RESPECTING ALL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS. THAT GOVERN THIS BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF BORACAY.

IF WE HAVE TO BE STERN, LET US BE STERN IN FAVOR OF THE ENVIRONMENT.

IN SHORT, ‘BACKSLIDING’ AFTER BORACAY RE-OPENS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. FEAR OR FAVOR SHOULD NOT GET IN THE WAY OF IMPLEMENTING THE RULE OF LAW.

HAVING GIVEN YOU A PIECE OF MY MIND, I GREET YOU ONCE AGAIN -- A BLESSED DAY TO ALL OF US.

IKAW, AKO, TAYO ANG KALIKASAN.

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