As he threatens to shut down the world-famous Boracay Island, President Rodrigo Duterte accused local government officials in the popular White Beach of being responsible for pollution in the area.
The President on Monday said that he would file complaints against them for “serious neglect of duty” as they were not able to maintain a clean environment in Boracay.
“I will charge you [with] serious neglect of duty [for] making Boracay a sewer pool, sa inyo ‘yan diyan (that’s your problem),” Duterte said during a speech at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.
On Friday, Duterte threatened to close the popular tourist destination, calling it a “cesspool,” if the island’s environmental woes will not be addressed in six months.
“I will close Boracay. Boracay is a cesspool,” Duterte said during the Manila Times’ Business Forum in Davao City.
The Chief Executive recalled his visit on the island wherein trashes around the area were just 20 meters away from the beach.
“But you go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Kasi lahat doon, ang palabas nila, sa (because everything there ended up to) Boracay… it’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster coming,” he said.
The President also said that local government officials are being too “zealous” in approving construction of various commercial establishments on the island without proper sewerage system.
“You allowed buildings to be constructed without the proper sewerage….You created a disaster there,” Duterte stressed.
The Chief Executive gave an ultimatum to the local executives and the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Either they clean it up or I will close it permanently,” he warned.
During a Cabinet meeting held last February 5, Duterte approved “in principle” the formation of a task force led by the DENR to fix the problems of Boracay within six months.
In 2015, the DENR started cracking down commercial establishments that may be polluting the beach. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, in the same year, said they conducted an inventory on establishments that lack environmental permits and violate environmental laws.
The Environment department said they are committed to finish in two months the commercial establishments’ assessment that are probably releasing untreated sewage causing pollution into the waters of the world-famous island.
According to DENR Undersecratary Jonas Leones, the department is done with the assessment of 30 percent of the business firms, most of which are resort operating in the area.
The DENR is working closely with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in determining Boracay establishments that are discharging untreated wastewater directly to the beach.