Boracay Island will officially reopen to the general public on October 26, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Wednesday.
Cimatu made the announcement only less than three months after the popular island resort was closed to the public for six months starting April 26 for rehabilitation.
"I would like to say categorically that we will be opening Boracay on October 26," Cimatu told members of the House Committee on Natural Resources during its meeting.
"When we started the counting, it was from April 26. But [the rehabilitation] should be made within six months, [or until] October 26 or October 27. But nevertheless, we will open it on October 26," he added.
The House panel was conducting an inquiry into the reported establishment of structures in forest areas, including shorelines in Boracay.
Boracay was closed to the public due to its worsening environmental problems, but Cimatu said the situation in the island has already improved.
"Categorically, I am telling you that Boracay is no longer a cesspool," he said.
During the hearing, Environment Assistant Secretary Joan Lagunda gave updates to the rehabilitation efforts in the island.
The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, she said, envisioned Boracay Island rehabilitated "as a sustainable tourism destination."
To make this happen, the task force focused on seven key result areas for rehabilitation.
These include providing social safety nets through training, livelihood and employment assistance, ensuring the health and sanitation of Boracay Island, as well as decongesting it.
Apart from these, the task force also worked on easing the traffic flow in the island, enforcing the rule of law, engaging the stakeholders and the public through an effective domestic and global communications strategy, and crafting and implementing a medium-term comprehensive ecosystem rehabilitation and recovery program.
The House panel conducted the inquiry in response to the call of environmental groups to concerned government agencies and officials to protect the remaining forestlands in the Boracay Island which "have borne ill effects of unregulated development and untrammeled tourism activities." — RSJ, GMA News