Duterte supports 6-month closure of Boracay
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will support the recommendation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the rehabilitation of Boracay, which he had threatened to close down to tourists because of the lack of sewerage system. 

Duterte said DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año informed him on Monday that the Boracay cleanup might take a bit longer. 

“I told him: ‘General, you are already there. I placed you there, whatever is your decision I will support you. It’s up to you. Just make the recommendation and if I find everything all right and in consonance with the (law), it will proceed,’” the President said during a meeting of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Manila on Tuesday night.  

“He said it would take something like six months. I said: ‘Then do it,’” Duterte added.

Last week, the departments of environment and tourism recommended the total closure of Boracay for a year to pave way for its rehabilitation. It was not clear whether Año changed the recommendation. 

Business establishments in Boracay are against the closure. They said it would affect the economic activity on the island, which is visited by two million tourists a year.

Duterte described Boracay as a cesspool and threatened to file charges against local officials who did not do anything to solve the island’s environmental issues. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured Boracay residents that the administration is not considering a permanent closure of the tourist destination. 

“There is no possibility of a permanent closure. It is only steps that must be undertaken to protect the environment of Boracay,” Roque told reporters on Monday. 

“If there is a partial closure, it would ensure that Boracay would be viable for the next generations. It is a remedial measure to make sure that the environment is protected and we will ensure that the jewel that is Boracay will be shared by the coming generations,” he added.

Boracay cleanup backed

Danish Ambassador Jan Top Christensen said the cleanup of Boracay is the right thing to do to improve the country’s tourism sector.

Christensen compared the situation in Boracay to his unidentified hometown in Denmark, which was able to rehabilitate its polluted waters.

“I remember swimming in the water and there was trash,” Christensen said.

“People realized that it’s not good for tourism, so they took steps and systematized the waste management,” he added.

Christensen said if the country does not begin to take waste management seriously, tourists would stay away from the Philippines.

“The good news is that it’s possible to do something,” he said, referring to the rehabilitation of Boracay.

Duterte earlier ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the DILG to fix the problems in Boracay within six months. – Catherine Talavera, Delon Porcalla

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