Boracay woes prompt congress to take action
The full-scale government effort on the famed Boracay Island is meant to preserve its natural assets and upgrade its maintenance amid reports of seawater pollution and street flooding, authorities said Saturday.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, who heads a multi-agency program called “Oplan Save Boracay (#saveboracay),” said a delegation of senators “will take a look-see of the actual situation” on the world-famous island, as part of a Senate inquiry in aid of legislation.
Recent findings of a joint field inspection of Boracay by Teo and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu prompted a congressional inquiry on the island’s condition, as well as a strong directive from President Rodrigo Duterte to implement preventive measures.
“If enacted and implemented, a tourism heritage law will be more effective in ensuring the preservation and protection not only of Boracay Island and its seawaters but all the country’s natural tourist destinations,” said Teo after a day-long multi-agency meeting at the Department of Tourism on Wednesday.
Over 60 establishments, including five-star resorts, have reportedly been dumping untreated sewage water into the seas off barangays Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapac that comprise Boracay, part of the municipality of Malay, Aklan.
Local government officials have taken flak over Boracay’s growing problems—water pollution, lack of garbage disposal measures, and violations of the building prohibition 30 meters from the shoreline.
To address Boracay’s problems, Teo said a joint administrative order is being forged with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“Boracay as it is now, remains among the world’s most beautiful islands as recognized by top international travel magazines, and that’s precisely why we are seriously concerned over these environmental threats that might affect its viability as an international tourist destination,” said Teo.
DOT Undersecretary for public affairs Katherine de Castro said a communications plan is being crafted to keep the world updated on the developments in Boracay.
“Certainly, all is not lost for Boracay Island, and we owe our guests, who have set foot in its fine white-sand beaches and have come to love it and its people, to know that this government is taking measures to protect this paradise,” said De Castro.