MANILA - Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat on Sunday pressed the local government of El Nido, Palawan to explain supposed violations against its local laws on sustainable tourism.
Romulo-Puyat said that in a recent trip to the holiday island, she noticed that the easement zone was not being enforced, and that the some tourist boats dump waste directly into the lagoon while some tourists violate an ordinance against single-use plastic.
She said she had written twice to El Nido's local officials about the issue, but she has yet to receive a reply.
"Nananawagan lang ako sa El Nido, matagal ko na kayong sinulatan, NR (no reaction), parang na-seen zone lang ako," she said in a DZMM interview.
"What is the use of having a local ordinance kung hindi mo naman siya ini-enforce... Hihintayin n'yo pa ba na magiging Boracay kayo na isha-shut down?" she added.
(I'm pleading with El Nido officials: I wrote to you, but received no reaction. It was as if I was put in the 'seen zone.' What is the use of having a local ordinance if you are not going to enforce it. Will you wait for you to be shut down like Boracay?)
BORACAY: CESSPOOL NO MORE
Boracay, earlier dubbed by President Rodrigo Duterte as a "cesspool", was shuttered for half a year starting April to give way to the rehabilitation of its sewage system and the removal of illegal structures.
The holiday island, which will reopen on October 26, Friday, has seen been restored to what it looked like 3 decades ago, said Romulo-Puyat.
"Sinasabi sa akin ng mga lumaki na roon, 'This is the Boracay we grew up in 30 years ago,'" she said.
(The locals told me, This is the Boracay we grew up in 30 years ago.)
Some 115 establishments have secured permits to operate after Boracay's soft opening, the environment secretary said.
She urged tourists to "treat Boracay as our own home" and refrain from littering.
Parties, she reiterated, will be banned along the beachfront and swimming areas.