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Thread: BORACAY, Paradise or Paradise Lost?

  1. #1

    BORACAY, Paradise or Paradise Lost?

    Stalemate in Boracay

    The lesson here concerns not the future of the island resort, which seems to be at the end of its life, but how to deal with other places being touted as ‘the next Boracay’

    By: Clinton PalancaPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 07:10 AM March 22, 2018

    We need to talk about Boracay. The only problem is that no one knows the whole picture of what’s happening there.

    We’re like the proverbial three blind men feeling down different parts of an elephant, except that it actually isn’t an elephant and there are three other men who have appeared out of nowhere and are talking at the top of their voices all at the same time.

    We don’t need heavy-handed censors. Far more effective is flooding the news and social media with contradictory reports and speculation disguised as facts, insinuations supported by either anecdotal or complete fantasy, and anger—always, lots of indignation and anger.

    This week, the stalemate continues. The announcement has been made that the Environment secretary and the Tourism secretary are recommending closing down Boracay for a year.

    The businesses in Boracay have staged a torchlight protest—which has gained them media attention, but ultimately will have little impact on the government, which is largely immune to quaint niceties of demonstrations or rallies anyway. So, singing “Kumbaya” with lit candles is something it can safely ignore.

    It will be up to President Duterte, in his infinite wisdom, to play Solomon.

    Years in the making

    “Discovering” that Boracay is a cesspool is akin to an elderly spinster in a decaying mansion finding a room infested with cockroaches: “Inday! How long has this room been like this? Clean it up at once! Throw everything away!”

    The problems in Boracay have been years in the making.

    The airport is a disaster. How many times have flights been cancelled because of “sunset limitations?”

    Since the time of Galileo, people have been able to calculate the time when the sun will rise and set. It’s printed on calendars hardware stores give away. It baffles me that airlines with advanced technology, every summer, go through the charade of slapping their heads and wringing their hands: “Sorry, but sunset has come—unexpectedly, despite it being the end of the day! We’ll have to cancel the flight!”

    Despite the travails of getting to Boracay—which are comparable, actually, to traveling anywhere in the Philippines, except to places like Amanpulo—the island has continued to thrive.

    Every time something big came along, like Discovery Shores or Shangri-La Boracay, people threw up their hands and said this was the end for the fabled island.

    For purists, the beginning of the end came when electricity and running water came, but that’s just people like me.

    Beautiful sunset

    Despite the overcrowding, the pollution and the boatloads of tourists, Boracay continued to be a fun place. The sunset remained as awe-inspiring and beautiful as ever, the sand remained powdery fine, even if you had to share it with sweaty, blubbery hordes ready to jump one another.

    Comparable to the thrill of the old Boracay, when you had to pump water from a well by the light of a kerosene lamp, was strolling down the four kilometers of white sand beach looking for a place to eat.

    All the same, there was a sense of impending surfeit. It was like a big party at the end of the world, and everyone knew it had to end at some point.

    But this sledgehammer approach is not the way. It is both impetuous and slothful, born of a mind-set that reacts to problems by destroying, rather than solving.

    It also feels like a shakedown, although that may just be the cynical viewpoint.

    The other great unknown is not just one, but two, big casinos will be built on the island. I don’t understand the lure of casinos in general, but from what I gather, the idea of casinos is to keep you indoors and unaware of the time as much as possible.

    So, putting up a casino where you have to compete with the lure of kite-surfing and bikini-watching doesn’t really make much sense.

    As a food writer—who is necessarily also a travel writer—I feel that the lesson to be learned here concerns not just the future of Boracay, which seems to be at the end of its life, but also how to deal with other places that are being touted as “the next Boracay.”

    Batanes, for instance, is gaining popularity as destination. There used to be only a few flights a week, and if it is cancelled due to bad weather, you could be stuck there for an unknown length of time.

    Popular destinations

    Siargao is already densely populated, and Bohol is rapidly being gentrified. For places like Batanes, or even Sagada, which hasn’t been the same since you could drive up to it rather than cling to the roof of a jeepney, getting on the tourist trail doesn’t just mean urbanization—it’s also giving up a way of life.

    For us, the only cycle we know seems to be discovering paradise, and then spoiling it—there’s no equilibrium that can be reached between man and nature, between crass mercantilism and respect for indigenous cultures and folkways.

    This problem is not unique to us—just look at the hordes that stomp through the delicate wooden steps of the Potala Palace in Tibet, at the crumbling splendor of Venice (not to mention the horror-tourism of Auschwitz). Tourists must come mostly because they want to enjoy a place, not destroy it.

    How to balance the very healthy and very desirable urge to travel and see new places, with the need to safeguard natural and human resources, requires great skill and acuity of judgment.

    It is for this reason that government bodies like the Department of Tourism were created, and it is to their integrity and clear-eyed judgment that we must look now for a fair, balanced and long-term solution.

  2. #2
    But why build 2 casinos now?

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:30 AM March 22, 2018

    Is Boracay in need of rehabilitation? Absolutely. Visitors, tourists and locals alike who deign to look more closely beyond the island paradise’s still dazzling centerpiece attraction — its 4-kilometer, powdery, white-sand shoreline — would not find it hard to spot troubling signs of environmental distress.

    While the main beach front remains relatively pristine-looking, especially at low tide when the water recedes to expose a greater expanse on which visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk or marvel at a fantastic sunset, the back portion of the choice establishments lining the shoreline speak of a different reality.

    To walk from the beach to the main road that serves as the central spine of White Beach, connecting Stations 1 to 3 on the island’s west coast where the majority of the tourist horde congregates, is to be rudely awakened to the shabby, unsightly ills that are blighting Boracay due mainly to its reckless, pell-mell development.

    The dirt streets in between establishments leading to the highway are pock-marked with stagnant puddles of dank water. A rank smell pervades these corners, hinting at the huge sewage problem that bedevils the island, and that has been cited by Malacañang as its raison d’etre in calling for Boracay’s temporary closure, to allow it to “heal” and recover environmentally.

    Lot owners appear to have been left on their own to build structures as they saw fit, leading to a crazy quilt of buildings and concrete developments with no organized design or master plan.

    The main highway itself, narrow to begin with, is now a traffic-choked ribbon of dust and heat, with garbage in parts, unfinished civic works, flooded gutters, indiscriminately parked vehicles, and nonpedestrian spaces where tourists checking out the establishments lining the road are forced to dance a dangerous tango with cars and tricycles rumbling by.

    Boracay is not only overcrowded and overburdened; clearly, it has also been grossly mismanaged. Where have all the millions of pesos in environmental fees collected from every visitor through the years gone?

    From only about 400,000 in 2004, this spit of land now hosts over 2 million visitors a year, and the tide remains as yet unregulated.

    “It is moving toward alarming levels in terms of carrying capacity and solid waste management,” Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources warned in January.

    Having said that, is President Duterte’s blunt directive to close Boracay entirely, along with the threat to send no less than the Marines to enforce the closure order, the appropriate solution to the problem?

    Boracay locals and establishment owners are within their right to chafe at this seemingly indiscriminate, knee-jerk course of action.

    Where are the studies, first of all, to pinpoint which areas of Boracay need the most urgent attention, or whether such a blanket closure is indeed the most beneficial recourse?

    And how would this impact on the 19,000 or so residents and workers whose livelihoods depend on the daily running of the island?

    To those fundamental concerns have been added another wrinkle - one too suspicious to ignore.

    Even as Malacañang has forcefully batted for shuttering Boracay completely on account of its supposed environmental ruin, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. confirmed that it has given the go-signal to a Chinese-backed casino entity to begin building an integrated resort on the island.

    In fact, not one but two casino operations are set to rise - one approved back in 2014, and the other the new $500-million project by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group that was signed this week.

    Save Boracay, to be sure. But two giant corporate resorts further straining the island’s fragile condition, while also shoving aside, whether deliberately or not, smaller Filipino businesses and livelihoods - how is this in any way justifiable?

  3. #3
    LRWC buys 23-ha property for Boracay casino

    By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla - Reporter / @philbizwatcher Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:07 PM March 19, 2018

    A unit of gaming firm Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) has acquired a 23-hectare property in Boracay to build on the island’s first integrated gaming resort in partnership with Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.

    In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday, LRWC said a subsidiary acquired the property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, located on the south end of the island.

    “Consistent with the pronouncement of Pagcor (Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp.) chairperson Andrea Domingo, it is expected that Pagcor will issue a provisional license to Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) before the end of this month,” LRWC said in its disclosure.

    “Upon the issuance of the said license through the partnership between LRWC and GEG, an integrated resort will be constructed in the said property,” LRWC added.

    Pagcor has imposed a moratorium on the opening of new casinos as Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is concerned about the proliferation of gambling. However, applications submitted before January 11 when such a policy thrust was firmed up will still be considered.

  4. #4
    2007 Boracay master plan raised urgency of solving environment woes

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:06 AM February 15, 2018

    ILOILO CITY - The environmental problems plaguing the “island paradise” called Boracay did not come overnight.

    The warnings have long been issued.

    There were at least three comprehensive development plans for the island and several multisectoral summits to deal with the problems.

    In 2007, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) presented to stakeholders a draft 25-year environmental master plan for the 1,032-hectare island.

    The 130-page master plan covering 2008-2033 contained a comprehensive examination of the then environmental situation of the island. It also evaluated the impact of tourism-related activities and projects, and the effects of future development projects.

    It aimed to preserve the environment and natural resources while ensuring the sustainable development of Boracay.

    More than a decade ago, the plan already raised the urgency of the environmental situation brought by unregulated development and tourism boom.

    “If the degradation of the total environment will be left unaddressed, the situation will only get worse unless action is taken promptly to reverse it.

    “Denial, concealment or cosmetic dressing of the problems will only delay, or even worse, completely prevent action that could dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone on the island,” it said.

    Causes of problems

    The plan clearly identified the causes of the environmental problems: erection of resorts and tourism facilities along easement areas, hampering public access, destruction of the natural beauty of the coasts, indiscriminate development, illegal reclamation of wetlands, and clearing of forested areas for building construction.

    It raised concern about the depletion of the island’s biodiversity and carrying capacity with the continued influx of tourists and migrants to the island.

    The plan pushed for the shifting of major infrastructure support from the island to the mainland and regulating the daytime population by relocating the staff of commercial establishments to the mainland.

    The DENR also implemented a moratorium on the processing and issuance of environmental compliance certificate (ECC) in 2008, which was officially lifted on July 15, 2014.

    An ECC certifies that a project or activity will not pose environmental hazards or damage and that its proponents are capable of implementing measures to protect the environment.

    The moratorium, however, did not stop construction activities because an ECC has not been made a requisite in applying for building permits.

    Despite other efforts to solve the problems, including putting up a sewerage system, enforcement of easement rules and clearing of the beach of illegal structures, many problems have remained.

    Independent council

    “It’s really about [greed]. There is uncontrolled construction, opening up of all kinds of businesses and influx not only of tourists but also of workers who eventually settle on the already crowded island,” said Jim Sampulna, DENR Western Visayas director.

    There have been various proposals to put up a management council for Boracay, similar to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) instead of placing its management solely on the local government of Malay town in Aklan province.

    Many residents and business operators agree that one of the key long-term solutions to the island’s problems is putting Boracay under an autonomous administrative body, which is not headed by elected officials.

    “In the long run, Boracay needs an independent management council made up of tourism experts, businessmen and a minority of local officials. This council must be free of politics and political influence,” an expatriate on the island said.

    Cimatu’s turnaround

    “Boracay can always be rehabilitated with a strong independent authority like the (SBMA),” a former tourism official said.

    Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu himself made a similar proposal during his confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments.

    But he made a turnaround during his visit to the island in January this year, saying he now favors an “expanded” task force composed of various agencies and local officials.

    The resistance from local officials is understandable. While Boracay has only three of the 17 barangays of Malay (population: 53,000 as of 2015), it accounts for 80 to 90 percent of the municipality’s income.

    The municipality earns from licenses, permits and fees mostly in Boracay and from the collection of the P75 environmental fee per tourist.

    The Aklan provincial government also earns P100 in terminal fee per visitor at the Caticlan jetty port and passenger terminal.

    But Boracay residents are hoping that all is not lost because even if the island is closed down, this will still be their home.

  5. #5
    Duterte eyes declaring state of calamity in Boracay

    By: Jhoanna Ballaran - Reporter / @JhoannaBINQ / 08:19 PM March 06, 2018

    President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he would declare a state of calamity in Boracay weeks after ordering a cleanup of the famous island in six months.

    Duterte also cautioned courts not to interfere in the problem by issuing a temporary restraining order.

    “I know it would work [inaudible]. And that is why I will be declaring state of calamity,” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission in Malacañang.

    “And I would caution the courts not to interfere by issuing TRO because you would just exacerbate the situation. And the worst baka hindi kita paniwalaan,” he added.

    Duterte said that the problem in Boracay is a public health and public safety issue, allowing him to issue such declaration.

    “I can order for this thing to happen because it is public interest, public safety, and public health para malaman ninyo (for your information),” he said.

    The President also ordered the local government unit of Boracay to cooperate with the national government and hasten the cleanup.

    “For as long as there are shit coming out of those pipes draining to the sea, I will never give you the time of the day na bumalik diyan,” he said.

    Last week, Interior Officer-in-Charge Secretary Eduardo Año said that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was considering the declaration of state of calamity over the tourist island and a 60-day shutdown of commercial establishments.

    This after he ordered an investigation to look into the possible liability of local government officials over the “environmental degradation” of the world-famous beach.

    The investigation, Año said, would probe local executives who issued building permits, occupancy permits and even business permits despite non-compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

    Early last month, Duterte ordered Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to fix the Boracay problem in six months.

  6. #6
    5 departments sharing task of saving Boracay

    By: Jerome Aning - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:04 AM February 24, 2018

    The government will launch a full-scale effort to restore and upgrade the maintenance of Boracay Island’s natural assets amid reports of seawater pollution, flooding, garbage disposal problems, encroachment and land-use violations, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said on Friday.

    Teo said the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the public works, interior, environment and justice departments would be issuing a joint administrative order (JAO) to undertake the effort to save the island, world-famous for its powdery white sand and clear waters.

    Teo, who heads the multiagency program called “Oplan Save Boracay,” said she met on Wednesday with acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

    Tourism heritage law

    “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,” Teo said in a statement.

    The DOT chief said she would also be pushing for a tourism heritage law that would ensure that stakeholders would take care of tourism destinations.

    “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 [waters] but all of the country’s natural tourist destinations,” she said.

    Senate inquiry

    Teo and other officials would be accompanying senators to Boracay next week in a Senate inquiry into the island’s problems.

    President Duterte earlier warned that the government might close Boracay to tourism if the island’s sewage and garbage problems, as well as violations of environmental laws and regulations, were not resolved in six months.

    An inspection led by the environment department showed over 60 establishments, including five-star resorts, have been dumping untreated sewage into the waters off barangays Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapak that comprise Boracay Island, which is part of Aklan province’s Malay municipality.

    Local government officials have received flak for the perennial problems of water pollution, lack of garbage disposal and violations in building regulations that prohibit construction within 30 meters from the shoreline.

    Tourism Undersecretary for Public Affairs Katherine de Castro said a communications plan was being crafted to keep the world updated on the developments on the island.

    “Certainly all is not lost for Boracay Island, and we owe our guests, who have set foot [on] 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,” she said.

  7. #7
    Town gov’t accepts Boracay ‘cesspool’ tag as ‘constructive criticism’

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas / 09:27 PM February 19, 2018

    ILOILO CITY - Finally breaking its silence, the Malay municipal government in Aklan on Monday described President Rodrigo Duterte’s calling of Boracay Island as a “cesspool” as “constructive criticism” and offered its “full cooperation” to the six months deadline set by the President to address the island’s environmental problems.

    But in an official statement, the first in 10 days since the President lambasted the environmental situation of the island, the Malay local government unit hit news reports showing images of algal bloom coating Boracay’s beaches.

    The Malay officials said measures were being taken to address the environmental problems of the 1,032-hectare island.

    Boracay is part of Malay town in Aklan province at the northern tip of the Panay Island.

    Three of the town’s 17 villages of the town are in Boracay.

    “The Local Government recognizes the existence of these problems and its responsibilities in order to uphold the environmental and social welfare of our beloved island,” the officials said in the statement.

    They cited a contract signed late last year by the municipal government with top architectural firm Palafox Associates to formulate and implement a municipal tourism master plan.

    Part of the plan is to decongest Boracay by integrating the mainland of Malay in the development of Boracay.

    The officials also cited efforts to do the following:

    - pursue and prosecute violators of the 30-meter beach setback
    - organize a task force to rehabilitate and maintain the beauty of Bulabog Beach at the eastern side of the island
    - clear residual trash from the island’s central material recovery facility
    - strictly implement the construction of sewage treatment plant in establishments
    - They said they “recognize that the President is not happy with what is happening (on) Boracay Island” despite these efforts.

    “We do accept the constructive criticisms of our President and use it as the fundamental aspect of our improvements,” the officials said.

    The local government said it will work closely with national government agencies to meet the President’s deadline, stressing the importance of the assistance of the national government to address the problems.

    The local government unit will release this week a six-month action plan and convene of the existing municipal waste water management council and Bulabog Task Force to help in the implementation of the plan.

    But the officials criticized television networks ABS-CBN and GMA for showing photos “sensationalizing the algal phenomenon” in Boracay.

    According to the local government, the algal bloom happens only during summer.

    “We condemn the recycling of photos for the selling of their ‘news.’ These news institutions gain profit from their news that ultimately degrades the image of Boracay Island which is highly dependent on the tourism industry. We advocate for responsible journalism,” the officials said in its statement.

    Many business operators and residents have claimed that the algal blooms are seasonal, “natural,” and have been occurring even before the island became developed.

    But environmentalists and even some long-time residents have raised warnings that the bloom is an indication of deteriorating water condition and of pollution.

    In 2015, then Environment Secretary Ramon Paje noted that the algae bloom along the Boracay shoreline indicated water pollution resulting from “poor waste management with sewage being dumped into the waters.”

    In a press statement issued on May 4, 2015, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cited a study by conservation group Global Coral Reef Alliance that “the presence of green algae along Boracay’s shoreline during the calm season is a strong indicator of very high nutrient pollution that they are typically found right around sewage outfalls.”

    In that statement, the DENR said the algae “die back in the rough season because waves dilute nutrients to lower levels and wash away the algae and the suspended sediments reduce the light levels. The algae become visible again in the next calm season.”

    But the Malay municipal government said the media was “sensationalizing the algae phenomenon which ultimately hurts the industry of Boracay.”

    “We can expect that the algae season will still happen during the summer of this year – and we are prepared for another barrage of news claiming that Boracay is ‘dirty’,” the statement said. /atm

  8. #8
    House tourism panel backs Boracay shutdown

    By: Pathricia Ann V. Roxas - Reporter / @PathRoxasINQ / 05:06 PM March 21, 2018

    The House of Representatives tourism committee has backed the proposal to temporarily shut down Boracay Island in a bid to rehabilitate the famous tourist destination.

    Committee chair Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said this on Wednesday, even as this may lead to an estimated P5 billion monthly loss once the island is closed.

    In a committee report, the panel recommended the temporary closure of Boracay to immediately eradicate or drastically reduce the dumping of waste water into the beach.

    The panel also directed an inventory of all pipes dumping waste water into the sea via drainage pipes, a crackdown on illegal sewerage connections and unwarranted permits to use drainage pipes, and declared the indefinite closure of violating residences and business establishments.

    Gomez said the panel has taken into account the economic implications of a temporary closure, noting that in 2016, the island brought in P60 billion in tourism receipts.

    “This is definitely a hefty sum, and both business establishments and residents will suffer the consequences. However, on balance, the Committee put more weight on the long-term viability and sustainability of tourism in Boracay, versus the short term economic collateral damage that comes with closing its doors to incoming tourists,” she explained.

    “With a heavy heart, the Chair would like to convey deep empathy to those who will be affected by such a temporary closure. Temporary closure may be likened to a bitter pill that needs to be taken in order to cure the symptoms and causes of a nagging disease,” she added.

    Gomez said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), Department of Tourism, and the Malay local government unit should formulate strategic and measurable courses of action, which would then be the basis of the declared time period for closure.

    The long term solution for Boracay’s issues, however, is the ratification of a unified code of law that would govern all matters that bring about sustainable tourism in the Philippine, the lawmaker said.

    “Fixing Boracay now, however painful, is plainly necessary,” she added, noting however, that the committee report did not tackle the plans to put up casinos in Boracay, as it was concerned with wastewater problems.

    Department of Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año earlier floated the possibility of shutting down the island for six months, which President Rodrigo Duterte supported.

    Duterte had also threatened to close the island as its garbage and sewage problem posed a threat to the health of tourists. /je

  9. #9
    ‘Cesspool’ tag upsets Boracay residents

    By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas / 12:52 AM February 12, 2018

    Published: 7:11 p.m., Feb. 11, 2018 | Updated: 12:52 a.m., Feb. 12, 2018

    Residents and business operators on Boracay Island are unhappy with President Rodrigo Duterte likening the world-famous tourist destination to a pit of human waste.

    But they welcome his directive to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to solve the sewage and garbage problem in Boracay in six months, or he would shut down the island resort.

    “[C]alling the island a cesspool shows the President is probably misinformed of the nature and magnitude of the problems,” said a resident business operator, who asked not to be named to avoid reprisal from the President or his supporters.

    “Does he even think what will happen to the thousands of workers and their families who earn a living here if the island is closed down?” said the resident.

    Another resident said the President’s hardline stance could move other officials to take action. “Maybe the governor, congressman and local government units will wake up.”

    While residents say algal blooms naturally occur every summer in Boracay, researchers link their presence to human waste coming from nearby establishments. —JILSON SECKLER TIU

    Unfinished drainage system

    A business leader said Boracay’s problems had worsened due to the inadequate support from the national government, citing the island’s drainage system, which had yet to be completed more than 10 years after the project started.

    “What we need is less reaction and condemnation and blame. We need actual ideas, solidly researched and organized plans, and leadership that will do the hard things to ensure Boracay can get through current difficulties,” said another business leader.

    In a speech during a business forum at the Marco Hotel in Davao City on Friday, the President said: “I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool.”

    He said Boracay’s sewage and garbage problem was destroying the island’s ecosystem and posing a threat to the health of millions of visitors.

    “There will be a time that no more foreigner will go there because … when he goes back to the plane, he will be full of shit going back and forth to the restroom,” he said.

    In illustrating how serious the problem was, the President said garbage was just 20 meters away from the beach.

    “At a distance, you see white sand. But you go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? Shit because everything that goes out in Boracay … it’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster,” Mr. Duterte said.


    Tourism officials affirmed the President’s assessment.

    “It’s a shame that Boracay, which has repeatedly been recognized by prestigious travel magazines as the world’s most beautiful island, may yet end up a paradise lost if water contamination continues,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement.

    Ricky Alegre, the Department of Tourism spokesperson, said a number of establishments were draining their sewage directly into the sea.

    Of the 150 business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewage line, he said.

    Many establishments were also building too close to the beach and spilling over into the roads of the 1,000-hectare island, Alegre said.

    That was why, Mr. Duterte said, Cimatu should solve the problem in six months. “I’ll give you six months. Clean the (fucking) thing.”

    Task force

    The President earlier approved the creation of a task force to deal with the problems in Boracay.

    Cimatu himself had warned owners that their establishments on the island would be shut down if they were found releasing sewage into the sea.

    He said a “a serious and honest-to-goodness crackdown” was needed to bring Boracay back to what it was - clean beach and unspoiled environment.

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier urged officials of Malay town, Panay province - to which Boracay belonged—to require establishments and residents to connect to the island’s sewerage system to prevent untreated wastewater from flowing into the sea.

    “It’s not just establishments, but even the houses of local residents are not connected to the sewerage system,” Jim Sampulna, director of the DENR in Western Visayas, previously said.

    2M tourists

    Sampulna said overpopulation was also a problem for the island-resort. Some 50,000, many of them workers, live in Boracay.

    The island also hosts at least 2 million tourists yearly and brings in P56 billion in annual revenues, according to tourism department and industry sources.

    As a result, the carrying capacity of the island has been exceeded since 2010, according to Sampulna. - With reports from Jaymee T. Gamil and AFP

  10. #10
    Major Boracay resort bows to DENR crackdown

    By: Jaymee T. Gamil, Nestor P. Burgos Jr. - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:30 AM February 24, 2018

    The owner of West Cove resort on Boracay Island, one of the local establishments cited for violations of environmental laws, has agreed to dismantle structures built on rock formations and those not covered by a lease agreement with the government. —LYN RILLON

    The owner of a controversial resort on Boracay Island on Friday agreed to voluntarily destroy illegal structures after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu threatened to tear down part of the property.

    Crisostomo Aquino, owner of Boracay West Cove resort, volunteered to demolish the structures he had built on top of rock formations and those not covered by a lease agreement with the government starting on Feb. 24.

    Cimatu, who brought along a demolition team with him, rejected Aquino’s request to complete the demolition on five rock formations in 30 days, saying he would return on Saturday to ensure the work was being implemented.

    Two other resorts that have deficiencies in permits and requirements also have voluntarily closed until they met all government requirements.

    The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had previously issued a 25-year Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAgT) to West Cove covering 998 square meters at Barangay Balabag in Boracay.

    FLAgT allows the temporary use, occupation and development of any forestland for tourism purposes for a period of 25 years renewable for another 25 years. The agreement covers forestlands to be used for bathing, campsites, ecotourism destinations, hotel sites and other tourism purposes.

    But the DENR canceled West Cove’s FLAgT on Sept. 12, 2014, for violating the terms of the agreement by putting permanent structures outside the allowed area.

    No permits

    Aquino had appealed the ruling with the Office of the President. There was no immediate word on what action had been taken on his appeal.

    The resort became controversial for building structures on natural rock formations and operating for years without business and building permits.

    In 2014, government agencies and Malay municipality, which has jurisdiction over Boracay, demolished illegal portions of the resort but West Cove went to the courts to stop the demolition.

    Aquino has repeatedly denied the violations, alleging that he was being singled out.

    Cimatu met Malay Mayor Ciceron Cawaling and Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores to discuss efforts to address sewage connection problems.

    Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and his staff inspect natural and man-made features at the controversial West Cove resort, which volunteered to demolish its own illegal structures. —LYN RILLON

    Rowen Aguirre, executive assistant for Boracay concerns of the Malay municipal government, said two small resorts had offered to temporarily shut down.

    One was not connected to the sewage system and the other had no business permit, according to Aguirre.

    The DENR has found at least 842 establishments that were violating environmental laws on the world-famous island, including those that built structures within 30 meters from the high-tide waterline and outside their allowed property limits.

    In a statement on Friday, the DENR said it had issued show-cause orders to 85 establishments occupying protected forestland, giving them 15 days to explain why they should not be shut down. At least 89 more such show-cause orders had already been signed and would soon be handed down by the local DENR office.

    The DENR also said 300 other establishments committed violations, mostly of the Clean Water Act, or had failed to connect to the proper sewage facilities, and 51 had so far been issued show-cause orders.

    Cimatu said the crackdown would also cover violations on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

    Earlier this week, he deployed “mission teams” to serve the notices and show-cause orders and to draw up an updated list of all violators in the three barangays in Boracay—Balabag, Manoc-Manoc and Yapak. Around 140 DENR personnel and members of the teams were assisted by the military and police in this mission.

    At Station 1 in Barangay Balabag, Cimatu said he saw the “rampant disregard” by almost all beachfront resorts of the required 30-meter easement. Cimatu also observed a wetland occupied by houses in the same barangay.

    Island cleanup

    He lamented that only two of Boracay’s nine wetlands were unoccupied by people, citing a report by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

    A materials recovery facility at Barangay Manoc-Manoc that Cimatu had previously cleared of garbage was again being used as an open dumpsite.

    The crackdown began after President Duterte gave Cimatu six months to clean Boracay, which the President described as a “cesspool” or else he would shut down the entire island.

    “We will do our best to accomplish this mission. We can and we will do it,” Cimatu told members of the teams during a send-off ceremony held in the town of Nabas in Aklan, 25 kilometers from Boracay, earlier this week.

    Farther to the southeast of the world-famous island, a DENR team was checking compliance of the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Management Act and the “no-build” zone regulation in timberlands by establishments on Bohol province’s Panglao Island.

    “We have learned our lessons in the problems concerning Boracay,” Cimatu said. “We have to strictly enforce environmental laws in order to protect the country’s tourism sites so that the future generations will be able to enjoy them as well.”

    “We will comb through all the establishments in Panglao and impose a crackdown on environmental violators. What happened to Boracay is a wake-up call to others,” Cimatu added.

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