A footage surfaced earlier this week of a tourist letting her child defecate on a Boracay beach and burying the soiled diaper afterward, which prompted authorities to cordon off a portion of the beach from Wednesday to yesterday afternoon to dig it up, conduct tests and clean-ups.
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Boracay defecation incident saddens Palace
Christina Mendez, Jennifer Rendon (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday expressed displeasure at the reported defecation of a foreign tourist in Boracay, whose ecosystems and waterways have been under rehabilitation following environmental problems.

A footage surfaced earlier this week of a tourist letting her child defecate on a Boracay beach and burying the soiled diaper afterward, which prompted authorities to cordon off a portion of the beach from Wednesday to yesterday afternoon to dig it up, conduct tests and clean-ups.

The beach section was only reopened late afternoon yesterday after tests indicated water was safe and clear for swimming and related activities.

 Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the incident offends the sensibilities of Filipinos. 

“It’s a violation. We will not—of course, we are not happy about that. It’s not good because we’re supposed to be cleaning it up and then some people would just mess it up?” he said, stressing the act would be no less offensive if a Filipino had done it.

To prevent a repeat of what he called a disgusting incident, Panelo said local officials and police should always implement the rules and regulations in the island-resort.

 “There are rules and regulations in that place. So everyone is expected – whether foreigner or Filipinos alike… tourist, whatever – they have to follow rules and that obviously is a violation,” he said.

 Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said the violators should be slapped with administrative sanctions.

 “There is for instance, an ordinance prohibiting those kind of actions, then they will be sanctioned by local authorities. If there were ordinances like that, they could be sued or be fined,” Panelo said.

 He added that he has not discussed the matter with President Duterte but he must have been informed. “I have not talked about that with him, but I supposed he reads the news,” Panelo said, recommending that concerned agencies place public bathrooms near the beachfronts.  

Duterte last year intervened in Boracay’s maintenance after seeing photos and videos of its poor sewerage system and algae-strewn waters during a Cabinet meeting, publicly calling it a “cesspool” and threatening to close it to visitors, which he carried out in April 2018.

Establishments violating environmental regulations were then shut down, new rules on visitors introduced, and improvements to sewerage made. Since the closure was lifted, tourists have returned to Boracay, but subject to some regulations.

Boracay Interagency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) general manager Natividad Bernardino said the beach section was reopened following water quality testing done by the Environmental Management Bureau – Region 6 (EMB-6) showing coliform level at less than 1 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliter (ml).

When Boracay Island reopened after a six-month rehabilitation in October 2018, the coliform level was at 18 MPN/100 ml, a significant improvement from “thousands or even millions” level prior to the closing of the island in April of that year, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu was earlier quoted as saying.

Coliform refers to a wide variety of bacteria that can be found throughout the environment, including human and animal feces. The standard coliform level is 100 MPN/100 ml.

Tracking the culprit

Police are now tracking down the tourist involved with the help of local authorities and the Chinese embassy.

Police Major Jess Baylon, Malay police chief, said men have been deployed on the beaches to remind tourists to be mindful of prohibited acts, including throwing soiled items and cigarette butts.

While the Department of Environment and Natural Resources thanked the uploader of the video, it said it could have been better if the person was identified.

“It is just sad that with so many people on the beach, we were not able to catch the offenders in the act,” he added.

The DENR maintained that once caught, the tourist will face penalties for violating environmental laws. – With Louise Maureen Simeon, Rhodina Villanueva

BORACAY BEACH FOREIGN TOURIST
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