MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Authorities shuttered a portion of Boracay island on Wednesday for a 48- to 72-hour cleanup following reports that human waste had fouled its waters, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
A foreign national allegedly let her child defecate on the beach of Boracay's station 1, as shown in a viral social media post earlier this week.
Puyat said the Boracay Interagency Task force ordered the area cordoned off and banned swimming there.
She said Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu also instructed Boracay Interagency Rehabilitation Group General Manager Natividad Bernardino to locate the tourists in the viral clips and file charges for violating an environment ordinance.
"Kahit sino man lumabag sa batas, dayuhan man o Pilipino, dapat mahuli, may penalties involved," Puyat said.
(Whoever is the violator, whether a foreigner or Filipino, should be accosted, there are penalties involved.)
Puyat said authorities have yet to identify foreigners in the video. The tourism department has also coordinated with tour operators to help in the investigation.
Bernardino, meanwhile, said that they are trying to locate where the alleged diaper was buried.
"I-restrict muna sa swimming temporarily while we do the cleanup and as we try to trace kung saan nakabaon 'yung diaper (where the diaper was buried). Hinuhukay ngayon 'yung area (we're digging in that area)," said Bernardino.
Bernardino added they would have a meeting with the local government to discuss other ways to prevent similar incidents from happening.
"We are planning to give pamphlets sa airline pa lang (through the airline) on the do's and don'ts sa island lalo na sa tamang pagtatapon ng basura at pagdudumi sa (on the island especially on the proper way to throw garbage and policy against defecation at the) Boracay beach," she said.
Personnel from the local government, the DENR and even police officers are helping in the cleanup.
They expect Boracay's Station 1 to reopen on Thursday morning.
While disappointed at the foreigners' actions, Puyat cited how the incident showed public vigilance to maintain Boracay's cleanliness.
"'Yung maganda doon 'yung lahat ng mga Pilipino ay conscious at gusto nilang panatilihing malinis ang boracay. Ang hinihingi lang nila, sana kung makita agad i-report sa amin para mas mabilis namin maghuli because we will not tolerate this,"
(The good thing there is that Filipinos are conscious and they want to keep Boracay clean. If they see any (wrongdoing), report to us so we can accost [those responsible] swiftly because we cannot tolerate this.)
Malay town's "Anti-Littering Law" prohibits defecating, urinating and spitting in public places like Boracay.
The resort island reopened in October last year following a 6-month closure that gave way to the rehabilitation of its sewage system. The cleanup followed President Rodrigo Duterte's public statement calling Boracay's waters a cesspool.
--With a report from Cherry Palma, ABS-CBN News