Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
In a speech during a business forum at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City on Friday, President Duterte called Boracay Island a “cesspool” and warned that he would close the island to tourism within six months if the sewage and garbage problem of the island remain unsolved.
Known for its powdery white sand, Boracay has been consistently selected by travelers as one of the best islands in the world and is one of the country's top tourism destinations. Unfortunately for this heavily commercialized crown jewel of the Philippine islands, Boracay has also been hounded by coliform bacteria scares and other environmental issues in the past that were blamed on inadequate septic and sewerage systems on the island.
The President threatened to charge local officials of Boracay with serious neglect of duty for “creating” an environmental “disaster” in the world-famous island and he has given Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu the authority to “destroy” establishments on the island that violate environmental and health regulations.
Boracay's problems with poorly regulated construction, sanitation and overdevelopment are not uncommon among most tourist attractions in the country. It is only highlighted because it is the most popular and the symptoms of its degradation, such as the algal blooms which some connect to poor water quality caused by untreated waste water; has become an annual occurrence that seems to be growing in intensity with every passing year.
As the stakeholders of Boracay Island rush to clean up the island in a sustainable manner to prevent the loss of visitors and the threatened shutdown that could affect thousands of jobs, its state of deterioration should also serve as a wake-up call for other destinations in the Philippines, especially Negros Island, which has beaches that have the potential to rival Boracay in terms of beauty and appeal.
Our natural attractions cannot be allowed to end up like Boracay where tourism and uncontrolled development combined have combined to threaten the unique natural beauty that made it famous in the first place. Local governments and stakeholders such as landowners and developers have to work together to ensure that short sighted greed is not allowed to turn our natural wonders into cesspools and dumps.*