By Charina Clarisse Echaluce
A delegation of senators will take a look at the actual situation in Boracay, as part of the Senate inquiry in aid of legislation, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo disclosed today.
Teo, who heads a multiagency program called “Oplan Save Boracay (#saveboracay),” said the findings of a joint field inspection that she conducted with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu prompted a congressional inquiry in the island’s condition, as well as a strong directive from President Duterte to implement preventive measures.
“If enacted and implemented, a tourism heritage law will be more effective in ensuring the preservation and protection not only of Boracay Island and its seawaters but all of the country’s natural tourist destinations,” she noted.
Earlier, President Duterte said he will close down Boracay if the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will not be able to resolve the environmental violations in the popular tourist destination.
Over 60 establishments, including five-star resorts, have been reportedly dumping untreated sewage water into the seas off barangays Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapac that comprise Boracay island, municipality of Malay, Aklan.
Local government officials have taken a flak over the perennial problems of water pollution, lack of garbage disposal, violations of building prohibition 30-meter from the shoreline.
To immediately address such problems, Teo said, a joint administrative order is being forged with other line agencies; such as DENR, Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“Boracay as it is now, remains among the world’s most beautiful islands as recognized by top international travel magazines, and that’s precisely why we are seriously concerned over these environmental threats that might affect its viability as an international tourist destination,” Teo stressed.
Updating the world
Meanwhile, Tourism Undersecretary Katherine De Castro revealed that a communications plan is being crafted to keep the world updated on the developments in Boracay.
“Certainly all is not lost for Boracay Island, and we owe our guests, who have set foot in its fine white-sand beaches and have come to love it and its people, to know that this government is taking measures to regain this paradise,” said De Castro.