MANILA - Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday urged local officials and the environment department to tap residents for the upkeep of world-renowned Boracay island, which President Rodrigo Duterte recently branded as a "cesspool" that he would not hesitate to close down.
Duterte over the weekend said he has given Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu six months to fix the mess in crowded Boracay.
"Hinihimok ko po ang Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at ang bayan ng Malay [sa Aklan] na magbuo ng mga citizens' teams upang maging katuwang sa pag-monitor at pangangalaga ng Boracay," Binay, who chairs the Senate tourism committee, said in a statement.
The teams -- composed of non-government organizations, civic organizations, marine scientists, and other stakeholders -- shall help in clean-up drives and ensure that environmental standards are maintained.
"They will also serve as the eyes and ears, and periodically check that the President's list of things to do is done," she added.
Boracay, located on the northern tip of central Panay island, attracts nearly 2 million domestic and foreign visitors every year because of its fine, sugary white sand, lively night scene and abundant water sports.
Consistently voted by travel magazines as one of the top tourist destinations for relaxation, Boracay rakes in some P50 billion in revenues from 5-star resorts and beach-side restaurants, Binay said citing government data.
Binay last year filed a resolution urging the Senate to conduct an inquiry to promote a zero tourism waste policy on the island.
She cited a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and a group of Filipino scientists from 2010 to 2015 which said that "Boracay's coral reef ecosystem has been seriously degraded by tourism-related activities."
"Direct discharge of untreated waste water near the shore brings about poor water quality level that consequently results in frequent algal blooms and coral reef deterioration," the Coastal Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptive Management (CECAM) study said, as quoted by Binay.