(2nd UPDATE) The interior, environment and tourism departments have recommended the total closure of Boracay island to facilitate its rehabilitation.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Department of the Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año on Thursday announced a joint recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte for the total closure of Boracay.
Teo maintained that Boracay should be shut down completely for a few months to facilitate rehabilitation. Tourists may visit other beach destinations for the meantime, she said.
Teo, likewise, supported the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in its cleanup drive in other tourist destinations in Mindoro, Ilocos, Bohol and Palawan.
Teo said Boracay may be shut down for at least 6 months.
The three agencies recommended the closure of Boracay island as a tourist destination for a maximum of one year, effective one month after its declaration.
"This is to give ample time for the undisrupted implementation of the following measures to restore and eventually sustain Boracay island as a prime tourism destination," the memorandum added.
The Boracay Foundation Inc., meanwhile, said it has always expected the total closure of the island.
"It's always there. They've been threatening to close Boracay for two months, 6 months, pero we were not really, there was no proper communication. We were waiting for at least guidelines if ever they close because there will be a lot of... I don't know. It will affect not only the work force but the tourism industry in particular," foundation president Nenette Graf told ANC.
"It might be difficult to get up once you were closed, and the name, the image of our island that we built for years," she added.
Graf also said they are willing to sit down with Cimatu to give suggestions and recommendations.
"Why will the non-violators or the compliants be punished? I mean there are only a few establishments that have violated the waste water problem in Boracay. The easement and the big easement and the road widening started it but I'm sure there is always something, we can meet halfway maybe, and not total closure of the island because we cannot imagine the impact of this closure of Boracay to the international community, tourism community... We really want to sit down with him and discuss our recommendations," she said.
She said the island's stakeholders are committed to complying with relevant laws.
"We really commit to be compliant and do something to our violations," she said.
The government is expected to release its decision on Boracay on March 26.
The President recently described Boracay, famous for its long, wide beach and powder-like sand, as a “cesspool” due to the island’s dysfunctional sewerage system.
Several beachfront establishments have also been accused of violating easement rules.
Several government officials have recommended the temporary closure of Boracay to tourists to make way for its rehabilitation.