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The Department of Tourism (DOT) has unveiled the redevelopment plan for the resort island of Boracay, which will give existing developers a ten-year transition period to comply with the new plan and investors to build more hotels and resorts over 123 hectares of new areas.
Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said a part of the plan is a possible PhP1.2 billion investment by Manila Water to improve water services and sewerage system on the island. The target is to provide water services to the whole island by 2011 and sewerage system by 2012.
The Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) is also investing PhP200 million to build new ports and a three-kilometer circumferential road in Barangay Balabag to decongest the existing road, which will be made a one-way lane.
Durano said the comprehensive land use plan, prepared by architectural consultancy firm CEST Inc., will enable Boracay to accommodate as many as 2.2 million visitors by 2018, or three times the 700,000 visitors projected this year.
"If we don't follow this Boracay land use plan, we won't be able to accommodate 2 million visitors in ten years," he said.
Architect Liza Santos of CEST Inc. said that under the new plan, which is going to be adopted by the Malay municipal council in the form of zoning ordinance, another 269.6 hectares of land, on top of existing developments, will be allocated for commercial establishments and infrastructure.
Santos said that in particular, 123 hectares of land will be identified and made available to new investors for development.
At present, the 1,027.8-hectare island has 261.1 hectares devoted to commercial establishments, but the new plan allows it to be expanded up to 408.4 hectares, covering other areas in Barangay Yapak and Manok Manok.
The plan involves the revitalization of the entire coastline of Boracay, with particular focus on the White Beach and Barangay Balabag, where most resorts are presently located.
It seeks to spread the concentration of commercial actitives from the White Beach area in Balabag to Barangay Yapak in the north.
Barangay Yapak, where Shangri La Resort and Fairways and Blue Water golf resort are located in the north, will be developed for exclusive and high-end tourism activities. Manok-Manok will be developed as resettlement area.
Durano said new investors are welcomed to help Boracay build another 10,000 rooms over the next ten years. At present, the island has only 7,000 hotel and resort rooms.
The Supreme Court earlier confirmed Proclamation No. 1064 issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in May 2006, which declared the island as public domain.
Durano advised new investors to follow the Boracay comprehensive land use plan. By doing so, he said, their investments will be safe.
At the same time, Durano advised existing investors at the Balabag area to consolidate their properties with other resorts into five-hectare economic zones that are accredited by the government and eligible for fiscal incentives.
Existing investors, he said, have nothing to worry about as their properties won't be affected by the new plan, although a ten-year transition period will allow them to meet the full requirements of the plan.
He advised resort owners to find out where their establishments are. "If they are in agricultural areas (commercial and residential), they should try action to acquire ownership of the land. If they are in forest zones, they should secure special permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources," he said.
The Supreme Court said Congress may enact a law to entitle private claimants to acquire their occupied lots or to exempt them from certain requirements under the present land laws.
Durano said the 15-meter rule from the road centerline would not be applied, as this will displace many establishments near the existing road.
"Boracay is too narrow to have an expressway," he said, referring to the 15-meter-wide road on each side prescribed under Proclamation 1064 and upheld by the Supreme Court.
At present, commercial areas cover 261.1 hectares on Boracay island while residential areas span 139.4 hectares. The rest are wetlands, coastline, and forest areas, including no-build zones.
By 2018, the new land use plan will expand commercial areas to 408.4 hectares; small businesses for residents, 22.6 hectares; and residential areas, 169.4 hectares.
Infrastructure projects will cover 48.8 hectares; institutional establishments, 25.5 hectares; beach, 45 hectares; wetlands, 23.1 hectares; and forest, 245.8 hectares.
Durano said outdoor activities such as boating, bird watching, butterfly interaction, among others will still be allowed in no-build zones such as wetlands, beach and forest reservation areas. Roderick T. dela Cruz
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