July 19, 2018, 6:04 am
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Task force proposes total closure of Boracay

AN inter-agency task force has recommended to President Duterte the complete closure of Boracay Island to pave the way for the rehabilitation of the popular tourist destination.

Eduardo Año, officer-in-charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government, yesterday said he, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo made the verbal recommendation during a Cabinet meeting on March 5.

As to when the closure will take effect and its duration, Año said it would be the President’s decision.

Asked what the President’s reaction was to the proposed total closure, Año said Duterte told them he would “wait” for the written recommendation of the task force. The written recommendation, he said, is being drafted.

Asked if Duterte is amenable to the closure of Boracay, Año said, “I believe it’s okay with him... The President is in favor. Actually, he was the one who said that ‘if Boracay will not improve in six months, I will close it permanently… What is just being discussed actually is how long it will be closed so we can start the work in Boracay.”

He said closure period was the subject of debate at the Cabinet.

“Some want two months, some six months while others want one year,” he said. 

Año said they recommended a complete closure because rehabilitation work will just be prolonged if it will be done by phase, noting damage to Boracay is serious, particularly on the sewerage system. He said the environmental state of Boracay is also dangerous to the health of tourists and residents.

A number of business establishments have been found to be violating environmental laws, leading to the deterioration of the island’s ecosystem.

Among issues that need to be immediately addressed is the sewerage problem. The DENR has found that only about 47 percent of almost 2,000 business establishments in the island are connected to a sewage treatment plan. Other establishments were found to be on forestlands and wetlands.

The task force has been given by Duterte six months to work on Boracay’s rehabilitation. It was created last month after Duterte threatened to close the island to tourists because of the waste and sewage problems. 
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