A local resident named Raegan Cahilig posted a photo of the whaleshark sighting in Boracay waters over the weekend.
Raegan Cahilig via News5
Greenpeace: Butanding off Boracay no indicator of cleanup success
(philstar.com) - June 26, 2018 - 8:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental organization Greenpeace on Tuesday clarified that butanding or whale shark sighting off Boracay is a normal occurrence in the island.

“Butanding sighting is a regular occurrence in Boracay, using it as an indicator of the health of the sea is fake news, as whale sharks are migratory species,” Greenpeace was quoted by The Freeman’s May Miasco.

Greenpeace made the clarification after a local resident named Raegan Cahilig posted a photo of the whale shark sighting in Boracay waters over the weekend. Reports said the butanding was spotted near Crystal Cove Island, formerly called Tiguatian Island.

Some social media users said the butanding sighting is proof of changes on the island, which President Rodrigo Duterte ordered closed to tourists in April to make way for rehabilitation work.

“Pati si Butanding natutuwa ngayong medyo malinis na ang Boracay. Sana dumami ang Butanding na bibisita sa isla pag muli itong binuksan. (Even the Butanding is pleased now that Boracay is cleaner. I hope more butanding visits the island before it reopens,)” Twitter user Ellen Muñoz said in her tweet.

Greenpeace: Look at bigger picture

The environmental group, however, said the appearance of the whale shark in the island is not a measure of success.

Greenpeace urged the public to see the real picture of what is happening in the island – from the environment, the state of the people and the state of governance in Boracay.

“For example, how many individuals and government officers responsible in giving out permits to the operation of unscrupulous business are made accountable?” Greenpeace said.

“We understand, that they are as excited as we are, but I am sure the rest of the public and other public servants would agree that butanding sighting is not an indicator of success,” it added.

Greenpeace also called on the government to “stop hyping on wrong metrics to the rehabilitation and instead speak of the details of the rehabilitation plan, what was achieved, and what is still needed.”

Zarate: Where is Boracay rehabilitation action plan?

Meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) questioned the government for its supposed lack of a detailed and comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Boracay two months into its closure.

He asked if the whale shark sighting negates the need for a concrete plan for the island.

Zarate pointed out that thousands of workers were displaced yet the government has no detailed action plan to address the issues confronting the islands and its people. He named the woes on livelihood, environment, land tenurial claims and corporate greed as among the issues that need to be addressed.

RELATED: First batch of Boracay residents, workers get DSWD livelihood aid

"It seems that the Duterte administration is so happy and content that there was a whale shark sighting in the waters of Boracay that they have forgotten that the arbitrarily closed island, supposedly for rehabilitation, have myriad problems that need to be resolved,” Zarate said in a release.

"It’s like the mere sighting of a whale shark replaced the need for a detailed plan for Boracay where 30,000 lost their jobs," he added in Filipino.

The solon described the sudden closure of the island as “outrageous”, citing its supposed negative effect on the people who depend on the island’s tourism industry.

“Closure without a plan is like putting the carriage ahead of the horse," Rep. Zarate added.

During the House Committee on Natural Resources’ hearing into the Boracay rehabilitation last May 31, Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo said the inter-agency task force of Boracay has yet to finalize an action plan for the island.

"The lack of direction for the rehabilitation is raising the tension and doubt among communities in Boracay. What is really the government's plan for Boracay: keep it as a top tourism site or make it a casino haven or as a land reform area, as announced by President Duterte? There is a disconnect in these conflicting pronouncements. The people are still looking for answers," Zarate said.

READ: Show must go on: How Boracay's closure created the Calamity Survival Band 

"Meanwhile, even without an action plan, physical and economic displacement of workers and residents and cases demolitions and evictions are taking place, among others," he added. —Rosette Adel

BORACAY BORACAY CLOSURE DENR WHALE SHARK
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