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Transport, housing subsidy for workers seen to decongest Boracay

Since there are actually more residents in Boracay than tourists, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores said efforts to decongest the island include convincing workers to move to the mainland.

"Yung overall plan talaga ng province is to be able to convince the people -- yung mga hotel workers, construction workers — to stay in the mainland kasi it's also to their advantage kasi masyadong mahal dito ang cost of living," he told reporters after the Boracay ocular inspection of Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and Environment chief Roy Cimatu.

Miraflores said it would benefit the island if the government can also provide housing and a very efficient transport system, such as sea transport to these people.

"These workers, binabayad kasi nila ngayon, 25 pesos per person pagtawid ng boat. We can even subsidize some of these so that we can encourage these workers to stay in the mainland," he said.

According to the governor, there have been cases of people illegally living in the island's timberland.

"This is one major source of pollution. 'Di nakakabit sa sewage system, walang proper waste disposal," he said.

While it is imperative for these people to consider moving out, Miraflores clarified that all involved will only be "encouraged," so as to decongest Boracay, "not necessarily forcing them out."

According to the Department of Tourism, about two million visitors flock to Boracay throughout the year, contributing nearly PHP50 billion in annual receipts.

The 10.32-square-kilometer island paradise is nestled between the Sulu Sea and the Sibuyan Sea, comprised by three barangays namely, Yapak, Bulabog, and Manok-Manok, belonging to the municipality of Malay, Aklan and with an aggregate population of 34,000.

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA