By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The island of Boracay will be closed down to tourists if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will not be able to resolve the environmental violations in the popular tourist destination.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the statement following reports that 11 of the 180 establishments inventoried by the DENR have incomplete sewerage systems and that their waste materials go straight to the drainage canal.
The President, at a business forum in Davao City, said the days of local and foreign tourists enjoying the white sand beaches of Boracay are numbered if the DENR fails to clean it up.
“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool. Now, during the days when I was there, ‘yung basura (the garbage) was just 20 meters away from the beach,” Duterte said late Friday.
“So I told (DENR Secretary Roy) Cimatu, ‘I’ll give you six months. Clean the goddamn thing,'” he added.
Duterte also said that, sooner or later, tourists may not enjoy Boracay anymore and cease from going to the popular tourist spot.
“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? Sh*t. Kasi, lahat doon, ang palabas nila sa (Their wastes go straight to the waters of) Boracay,” he said.
“It’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines, and creating a disaster,” he added.
In October 2017, Cimatu proposed the creation of a national body to manage the popular beach island, instead of leaving its management to the local government.
Earlier this week, Cimatu said that Duterte has “approved in principle” an Executive Order (EO) that would help address the problems in Boracay Island during their Cabinet meeting.
“Last night, the Secretary of Tourism recommended an executive order to the President for the formation of a task force to (address) the problems in Boracay, especially the environmental compliance of the resorts,” Cimatu said, referring to Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
Under the EO, the Environment Secretary would chair the task force which will be composed of other concerned government agencies like the departments of Tourism, and the Interior and Local Government.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier said that around 100 commercial establishments in Boracay have improper waste management.
The DOT also promised to cancel their accreditation while the local government of Malay would do the same with their business permit, forcing them to stop operations.