BORACAY ISLAND, Malay, Aklan, Philippines — A Boracay-based foundation filed a suit with the Supreme Court to stop a controversial P1-billion, 40-hectare reclamation project straddling the paradise island, Boracay, and neighboring coastal town Caticlan, claiming that University of the Philippines experts have warned that the project threatens the fragile ecological balance of the area.
The Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) filed said petition with a prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order, against the Aklan province, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB). BFI challenges the 40-hectare reclamation project which is being undertaken in Caticlan and Boracay in the Aklan province’s Malay town.
The foundation asked that the reclamation project be suspended pending performance of proper environmental impact assessment and that its reclamation permit to be revoked.
Boracay Island is regarded as the country’s premier local and international tourist destination, earning millions of dollars in tourist income yearly. It was declared a tourist zone and marine reserve in 1978, and an environmentally critical area in 1981. The BFI asserts that the reclamation project undertaken by Aklan Governor Carlito S. Marquez, based on a Memorandum of Agreement with the PRA, has failed to comply with requirements for a full environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Based on relevant law and regulations, any reclamation project involving so-called “co-located” projects are subject to “programmatic” impact assessments studies, which Aklan province failed to perform, according to the foundation. BFI also alleges that the reclamation project was deliberately erroneously classified so that it could be issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).
Aklan province was able to obtain an ECC covering the first phase of the project, consisting of 2.64 hectares adjacent to the Caticlan and Boracay jetty port. Said jetty port is the gateway from mainland Aklan to Boracay Island, separated only by a narrow strait of water.
The BFI maintains that there is no necessity for a reclamation project in the area and that, based on a study conducted by marine biologists from the University of the Philippines (UP), the reclamation project will likely affect the current and flow of the tides in the area, and may cause further erosion of the sands in Boracay.
The organization also asserts that the reclamation project was implemented despite strong opposition of local government units, particularly the municipality of Malay and Brgy. Caticlan. This is in violation of the Local Government Code which requires consultation with local government units (LGUs) directly affected by developmental projects.