EDITORIAL - The other polluted waters

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - The other polluted waters

The upside of the current furor over pollution in Boracay, it is hoped, is that the world-renowned travel destination will be a better place, with cleanliness and proper sanitation sustained.

Boracay, however, is not the only place suffering from polluted waters in this archipelago of 7,100 islands. All over the country, many other bodies of water are polluted – seas, rivers, lakes and creeks – not only turning the areas into eyesores and degrading the environment but also endangering public health and the nation’s food supply.

Bodies of water in Metro Manila and many other urban centers are no longer fit for aquatic life or recreational activities because of solid waste and toxic industrial sludge. Pollution is endangering even the fresh water supply in a country with abundant water resources. Cholera is supposed to have been placed under control, but the potentially deadly affliction still crops up periodically especially in coastal areas where fecal matter is released directly into the sea.

The country prides itself in its beaches and diving areas. There are many islands with the potential to be the next Boracay or Coron and Puerto Princesa. Developing these areas into eco-tourism destinations could create meaningful jobs and livelihood sources that can slow down the departure of people for employment overseas. But tourism development requires constant maintenance and protection of the environment.

The problem in Boracay should provide a cautionary tale for other coastal travel destinations about the perils of poorly regulated tourism development. It should also lead to better enforcement of laws against pollution and environmental degradation. Wanton disregard of sanitation requirements springs from the belief that no one will be sanctioned for filthy practices. The government must disabuse resort owners and the general public of this belief. Sanitation and cleanliness are a must not only for tourists but also for everyone in this country.



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