MANILA - Boracay island may be reopened to tourists in July, instead of being shuttered for 6 months as planned, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Thursday.
President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered Boracay's shutdown from April 26 after flagging inadequate sewage that turned some waters into "cesspools."
"'Pag na-formalize na po iyung task force, mayroon ho kaming ipo-propose na milestones. 'Pag na-hit iyung mga milestones na iyun, puwede na magkaroon ng tinatawag nating soft opening," DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III told DZMM.
"Ang target namin, in 4 months," he added.
(Once the Boracay task force is formalized, we will propose certain milestones. Once these milestones are hit, we can have a so-called soft opening. Our target is in 4 months.)
Among these milestones are better water quality and a complete removal of illegal structures, he said.
The government has started shoring up Boracay's drainage system, simulating security scenarios and cleaning up the coast on the first day of the island's closure, said Densing.
Officials are also preparing a complaint against 24 establishments that were caught dumping untreated water into the ocean, he said.
During the closure, only residents with ID cards will be allowed to board ferries to the tiny island that is home to about some 40,000 people.
The government said it was aiming to squelch any unrest from those unhappy with the shutdown, including some of the some 36,000 people employed in the island's bustling tourist trade.
Resistance has been light in the run-up to the closure, with no violent protests and most of the criticism focusing on the plight of laid-off workers.
They have been drawn by the relatively good wages on the island that has seen the number of visitors roughly quadruple to 2 million since 2006.
-- With a report from Agence France-Presse