Duterte warns he will shut down Boracay if environmental problems not solved in six months
President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shut down one of the country's popular tourist spots if environmental problems in Boracay island will not be resolved within six months.
During the Manila Times Business Forum in Davao City Friday night, Duterte described the island as a "cesspool".
"I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool," he said.
Duterte said he tasked Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu to clean the island in six months.
He said during the time he visited the island, garbage was just 20 meters away from the beach.
"But you go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? Because everything goes out there in (the waters of) Boracay... It’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster coming," he emphasized.
Duterte said if the problem will not be solved, time will come when foreign tourists will not visit the island because of its sanitation issue.
"There will be a time that no more foreigner will go there because he will have ? when he goes back to the plane to where he belongs ? he will be full of shit going back and forth to the restroom," said Duterte.
In a hearing of the House committee on tourism on January 26, it was revealed that around 4,000 illegal settlers have been occupying the 400 hectares of forest lands in Boracay in Aklan while at least 100 commercial establishments there are causing improper waste management.
In that hearing, Cimatu said :"About 400 hectares in Boracay are forest lands. However, about 600 buildings are there in the forest land and they are occupied by 3,000 to 4,000 illegal settlers."
"These illegal settlers are competing with the tourism as far as services are concerned. Meaning, the disposal of garbage, water management, everything," said Cimatu.
"I'm just wondering how come this 3,000 to 4,000 settlers were allowed to construct buildings? You are only allowed to build when you have permit from local government," he said.
Last February 5, Cimatu said the president "approved in principle" an executive order that will address environmental issues in Boracay.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in the same hearing the the executive order to be approved by President Duterte into law....would convene the DENR as chair; DOT (Department of Tourism) as co-chair and other involved agencies into the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force.
Teo said pouring of waste into the sea and overcrowding of establishments in Boracay were just two of the six issues by her department. The others are solid waste management disposal, drainage problems that leads to flooding, presence of resorts built over natural bodies or water, and traffic caused by overcrowding.
He said during their Cabinet meeting, Duterte told Cimatu to do something on the problems in the island make a report in six months. Ella Dionisio/DMS