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No stopping Boracay rehab despite reelection of dismissed mayor – Cimatu

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ILOILO CITY — The reelection of dismissed Malay town, Aklan mayor, Ciceron Cawaling, will not hamper the rehabilitation of the world-renowned Boracay Island, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has assured.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered Cawaling’s dismissal for graft, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public official, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service – in connection with the environmental problems in Boracay.

The dismissal order was served by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to Cawaling on April 24.

“I heard that he won but I would just like to say that his dismissal is still there,” Cimatu said in an interview on the sidelines of the 9th Visayas Minerals and Energy Summit held in this city on Friday.

Cawaling won with 16,277 votes against his opponent John Yap, who only got 12,620 votes.

Cimatu clarified that the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) will remain on the island despite Cawaling’s reelection.

“I just would like to make it clear that the Inter-Agency Task Force will stay there. We have still 11 months to go and we will implement what is really included in that Executive Order, creation of the task force to rehabilitate Boracay,” he said.

He said the task force will continue to work to sustain all the improvements seen in the island after a year of rehabilitation.

“Gone is the cesspool, gone is the uncontrolled building construction, gone is the congested roads there. Being chairman of the task force, I will make sure that all our policies will be implemented,” Cimatu said.

In the second year of the rehabilitation, the environment chief said the department will have “additional instructions” to be implemented and will ensure strict implementation of the policies and ordinances.

On Tuesday, the BIATF ordered the closure of several foreign-owned business establishments operating in Boracay.

The establishments found operating without a mayor’s permit and were ordered shut were Bella’s Bar and Restaurant, Old Captain Cuisine, Great Wall Inn and Restaurant, Ken Minimart, Ken St., Island Staff Restaurant, Coco Spa, Kim Ji Man, W Hostel Boracay Dragon, VIP Souvenir Shop, and YH World Network Service, Inc.

“This is what we are doing now. I’m very much interested in the sustaining of the improvement of our efforts there, especially the adherence in the policies,” Cimatu said.

Ariel Iglesia, DILG 6 (Western Visayas) director, said he cannot comment on the case of Cawaling’s reelection.

“I understand a case was filed in the Commission on Elections as to his disqualification based on the Ombudsman’s decision for his dismissal and perpetual disqualification to hold public office,” he said in a text message to Philippine News Agency. (PNA)