By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Amid the ongoing discussion whether or not to temporarily shut down Boracay Island to tourists, Malacañang revealed that President Duterte will not hesitate to resort to extreme measures to clean up the famed tourist destination.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after it was reported that Boracay West Cove owner Crisostomo Aquino has appealed before the Office of the President the cancellation of the Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) covering his resort.
Meantime, Biodiversity and Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim said the government should likewise focus on the rehabilitation of Boracay’s ecosystem.
Roque, in yesterday’s press briefing, expressed hope that the appeal, which remains pending, will not affect the ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Boracay.
“I hope not. Because the decision that they are in breach of environmental laws, as far as I know, is immediately executory. And I think the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) have said they will demolish West Cove,” Roque said.
On Wednesday, the local government of Malay, Aklan ordered the closure of the controversial resort for operating without business and other permits.
It was also reported that the resort was ordered to immediately stop its operations for occupying a no-build zone and for operating without business, occupancy, and sanitary permits.
According to Roque, he also heard that the local government is also thinking of asking to call in the marines if need be. He said that all it needs is a letter to make that happen.
“When I heard that report, I said, ‘Send the letter’ because I’m sure the President will not hesitate to send the marines and even use dynamites to blow up that illegal structure there,” he said.
Puka shells = white sand
“For Boracay’s forest ecosystem alone, it has three kinds: limestone forest, which is very unique, mangrove forest and beach forest,” Lim said.
“If you are to rehabilitate the ecosystem, one-size-fits-all rehabilitation will not work. You have to think of these three kinds of forest. You have to see the diversity of ecosystems,” she added.
She cited the presence of puka shells, which is unique to Boracay.
“The fragments of live shellfish, those are your puka shells. The fragments of puka shells makes up the white sand of Boracay. These fragments is what makes Boracay sand very unique,” Lim said.