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Some Boracay rehab works might spill over ‘til next year, says Diokno

The rehabilitation works in Boracay island are seen to be extended beyond the six-month closure period or until next year, which may require budget allocations, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday. 

"There are some activities that might spill over to next year," Diokno said at a media briefing in Manila.

"These are long-term projects like relocation of some informal settlers," the Budget chief said.

While such activities might continue up to next year, the Cabinet official assured the public that the six-month closure of the island for tourists will not be extended.

"Definitely, it will open... we will exhaust the six months or will be earlier," Diokno said.

"Should agency programs or projects for Boracay rehabilitation spill over into fiscal year 2019, agencies may also propose these in their budget proposals for the 2019 budget," he added.

The Budget chief reiterated that the government has enough funds to support the efforts in rehabilitating the island and assisting affected workers and residents by the temporary closure.

Diokno said agencies involved such as the Departments of Environment, Tourism, and Interior have their own budgetary requirements they can utilize.

He added that the national government's contingent and calamity funds can also be tapped.

So far, the Department of Budget and Management has already released P448 million to the Department of Labor and Employment to cover financial assistance for 17,735 affected workers in the island.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, likewise, disbursed P9.7 million in financial assistance to 4,129 displaced workers as of May 4.

Diokno said the DBM is set to release P490 million to the Department of Public Works and Highways for the Boracay circumferential road project.

He added that the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority will spend P8 to P10 million from its own budget to rehabilitate the island's waste water management system by constructing temporary outfalls, opening drainage systems, and declogging critical areas.

"Rest assured that the government has a work plan in the temporary closure of Boracay island. This plan does not only involve the physical rehabilitation of the once pristine island, but also extends to the social welfare of the residents and workers to be affected," Diokno said. — RSJ, GMA News