Philippines’ famous Boracay Island faces shutdown due to sewage woes

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has issued a warning about shutting down Boracay Island, calling it a “cesspool”. Source: Shutterstock.

THE WORLD-FAMOUS BORACAY ISLAND in Central Philippines will be shut down if the nasty environmental problem there is not resolved in six months.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued the warning, causing a stir in the country’s tourism industry since Boracay has been the top destination for both foreign and local tourists over the years.

“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” he told a business forum in his hometown Davao City over the weekend.

“There will be a time that no more foreigners will go there because when he goes back to the plane to where he belongs, he will be full of s**t going back and forth to the restroom,” Duterte said.

Duterte instructed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to lead the clean up of Boracay, which is famous for its beaches and mesmerizing sunsets, in six months otherwise the whole island will be shutdown.

In 2016 and 2017, Boracay received the distinction as the “best island in the world” from international travel magazine Conde’ Nast Traveler.

“This itty-bitty island (10-square mile) is as close to the tropical ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets. Add in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region,” the publication said.

“The aptly-named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.”

Duterte said that Boracay now smells of s**t and “a disaster coming” because of the untreated wastewater directly discharged to the sea.

In response to Duterte’s instruction, Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will mobilize all its agencies to address Boracay’s serious wastewater and garbage problems.

Cimatu on Tuesday revealed the agency will close 300 establishments on Boracay Island for violating environmental laws, including lack of wastewater treatment facility or failure to connect with the sewage treatment system. The 300 represent about 40 percent of the total establishments on Boracay Island.

Source: Shutterstock.

He said the erring establishments would be given two months to rectify their violations, stressing that all establishments on the island are required to have waste treatment facilities.

For its part, the Boracay Foundation, Inc. (BFI), the island’s biggest business organization, welcomed Duterte’s six-month deadline for government agencies to solve the environmental problem on the island.

“It has long been the plea of the business sector, through the BFI, that Boracay be given the attention it so rightfully deserves, being the country’s premier tourist destination,” the group said in a statement.

“With the rapid growth of tourism, the island’s problems have been mounting,” it added.

Source: Shutterstock.

According to BFI, Boracay generates estimated annual tourism receipts of P56 billion (US$1.08 billion), mostly from foreign tourists.

But BFI expressed opposition to the government’s plan to shutdown the entire island to tourists if the problem is not solved in six months, noting that only erring establishments should be closed.

“While indeed there are many violators, most of the island’s business establishments are strictly in compliance with prevailing ordinances and regulations. It is unjust to close the entire island at the expense of the compliant establishments,” BFI said.