MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned that local officials in famous island destination Boracay may be charged for supposedly neglecting the popular destination.
Duterte said officials of the white-sand island, located in Aklan province, are largely to blame for the current state of the popular tourist destination and should be charged for “serious neglect of duty.”
“Pinabayaan ninyo ang mga bagay-bagay - the building of structures overlapping the coastline, and you allow buildings to be constructed without the proper sewerage. Inyo 'yan e,” Duterte said in a speech in Cebu City.
“Lahat ng water walang treatment. 'Yung tubig ninyo sa banyo diretso sa dagat. Tapos sabihin niyo billion? Wala akong pakialam,” he added, referring to the supposed income being generated by the island.
Duterte said he has ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to assess the situation in the island.
He said he would not stop Cimatu if the latter decides to shut down some facilities which he said has “created a disaster” in the island.
“You created a disaster there. Your garbage is about 25 meters away [from the sea],” Duterte said.
Red-faced tourism department officials affirmed Duterte's assessment that Boracay has become a “cesspool”, saying it reflected worsening sewerage conditions on an island known globally for its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters.
Department of Tourism spokesman Ricky Alegre said a number of establishments drained their sewage directly into the sea.
Of the 150 Boracay business establishments recently inspected by the government, only 25 were connected to the sewerage line, he said.
Many establishments were also building too close to the beach and were even crowding into the roads of the 1,000-hectare (2,470-acre) island, Alegre added.
Boracay attracts more than 2 million tourists a year and brings in P56 billion in annual revenues, the department and industry sources said.
Duterte warned the situation was a looming environmental "disaster" and a "tragedy" that could soon drive visitors away from the island, located about 190 kilometers south of Manila. - with AFP