BORACAY ISLAND — WHILE IT MAY affect this island’s tourism for a meantime, closing it to tourists for a few months for restoration is a wise move for the government should the authorities stand on this decision come July 2018.
The island’s poor sewerage system and the non-compliance of the majority of the establishments operating on the island paradise does not only put Boracay in a bad light. It is a disaster waiting to happen. No, we don’t want Boracay to be a Paradise lost.
President Rodrigo Duterte described the island a “cesspool” and threatens to close the islands if not cleaned within six months, alarming both the tourists and local stakeholders alike. Bulk of local residents rely on tourism as their main source of livelihood here.
Not doing anything about it however will negatively affect the environment in the long run. As highlighted by a lot of environmental enthusiasts so many times before, the current unplanned developments here would be detrimental not only for the locals and the tourists of today, but the generations to come.
We are not a fan of the president but highlighting the Boracay mess during a business gathering in Davao weeks ago is a message that we welcome, especially in a country where tourism remains among the top industries. In areas like we need the president’s iron fist.
As earlier announced, the tourism department plans to close Boracay during Habagat (non-peak) season, from July to October. It would be a tough act to do but it should be done if we want Boracay to continuously shine as a prime destination in the Philippines. It has been touted as the top island destination in the country in the recent years till now, either topping the list at number one or a runner-up to the Philippines’ Palawan islands.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said the environment department will demolish establishments which encroached the easement zone area. A mandatory salvage zone of 25 meters plus five meters measured between buildings and the shore from the high tide mark is set.
A few weeks back, Tourism assistant secretary Frederick Alegre said some 850 establishments have been served show-cause orders by an inter-agency council for easement violations and not connecting to the sewerage treatment plant. Alegre said only 18 percent of the about 500 accredited hotel and resorts in Boracay were connected to the sewer system. That’s pathetic a number, right?
The DOT also temporarily halted the processing of new and expiring accreditation certificates to establishments in Boracay which are not complying with environmental laws.
“To prevent continued harmful disposal of wastewater into the seas surrounding the island’s three villages (Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapac), the DOT is imposing a six-month moratorium on accreditation during which resorts and other establishments must acquire and maintain individual water treatment facility, as well as connect to the centralized sewerage system,” the Department said in a statement.
Moreover, closing the islands for tourists would also help the government fix the drainage system as some areas are being flooded during the rainy season.
While these negative reports has feared a portion of tourists that resulted to cancellation of their bookings, that’s okay. It is better to lose a little now for a greater good than put the environment and the whole island and its people at risk in the years to come.