By Antonio Colina IV
President Rodrigo R. Duterte will issue a directive requiring all resort owners to put in place proper wastewater treatment facilities to prevent polluting the coastal area just like what happened to Boracay Island.
In a press conference on Friday, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said they hope to prevent another Boracay from happening after the President recently ordered the closure of some erring establishments that are not complying with the environmental laws and regulations, which resulted in the contamination of seas surrounding Boracay Island due to the lack of proper sewerage system.
She said they are closely monitoring the development of tourism in Siargao, Coron, Cebu and Bohol and that requiring resort owners to establish their own water treatment facilities would prevent polluting the sea.
“Kung walang Boracay meron ibang lugar na pwedeng puntahan (there are destinations to visit even without Boracay),” she said, adding that the closure of some establishments is a necessary step to save the island for “future generations.”
She said at least 57 establishments have been issued notice of violations out of the 300 initially identified erring establishments, comprising more than half of the 500 total establishments on Boracay.
The tourism secretary said that most of these establishments lacked water treatment facilities in place and that some of them connect to the drainage system of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), which was intended for the rainwater to address the flooding on the island.
She added very few have been connected to the Boracay Water Sewage System that filters the water before it goes to the sea.
Teo said tourist arrivals have not been affected on Boracay since the President issued the stern warning against erring establishments while they will continue to market the primary destinations and aggressively promote the emerging ones to ensure inclusive growth.
She said they fully support the directive of the President for the six-month deadline to clean up the island and fix the problems, including, water and solid waste disposal.
“The massive clean-up of Boracay is a bitter pill that we have to swallow if we were to collectively save and sustain Boracay,” she said.
She said she is set to visit Boracay with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on February 21 to check the progress of protecting the environmental health of the island.