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After whale shark sighting, Palace says Boracay rehab a success

Malacañang said Monday the recent whale shark sighting in the waters of Boracay only showed that the government's efforts to rehabilitate the holiday destination are paying off.

The sighting came around two months after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a six-month closure of the island that is reeling from environmental degradation and unchecked tourism.

"I think that shows that the effort to clean up Boracay has succeeded. If we are able to attract a whale shark, that means we must have pristine water anew in Boracay," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a news conference in Cagayan de Oro City.

Roque also congratulated all those involved in the rehabilitation which is being implemented by an inter-agency task force headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Duterte has branded Boracay and its world-famous white-sand beach a "cesspool." He had ordered visitors be kept away from April 26 until late October so facilities to treat raw sewage can be set up and illegal structures torn down.

The President also said that no casino resort would be put up in the popular holiday destination and that he was placing it under land reform, citing a Supreme Court decision in October 2008 that declared Boracay, which it classified as forested and agricultural, as state owned. — Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News

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