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Duterte threatens to close ‘cesspool’ Boracay

President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to shut down popular tourist destination Boracay, describing it as a "cesspool," if the island's environmental issues 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 on Friday.

The President said he has tasked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu "to clean" Boracay in six moths.

During the Cabinet meeting on February 5, Duterte approved "in principle" the creation of a task force led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to address the poblems of Boracay in six months.

"Now, during days when I was there, ‘yung basura was just 20 meters away from the beach," the President said.

"But you go into the water, it’s smelly. Smell of what? S***. Kasi lahat doon, ang palabas nila, sa Boracay... it’s destroying the environment or the Republic of the Philippines and creating a disaster coming," Duterte emphasized.

If the sewerage and sanitation issues will not be resolved, the President predicted that "there will be a time that no more foreigners will go there because he will have --- when he goes back to the plane to where he belongs, he will be full of s*** going back and forth to the restroom."

In 2015, the DENR started a crackdown on commercial establishments that may be polluting the water in the world-famous Boracay island. 

A study conducted by a team commissioned by the Department of Tourism to draft the Land Use Plan of Boracay during the terms of former secretaries Ace Durano and Ramon Jimenez found that the influx of tourists is not the problem per se, but rather the rapid population growth on the island as it is almost six times higher than the national average. 

This is attributed to in-migration due to the island’s booming tourism industry. Job-seekers have been consistently flocking in from mainland Aklan and other provinces.

Main establishments along the main tourist area were built quickly to accommodate the rapid rise of visitor traffic and business activity, which in turn put stress on the sewerage system that was not designed for high capacity of operation.

Because of crackdowns by DENR and other government agencies, facilities and establishments have progressively been compliant with imposed standards.

However, monitoring households proves to be a difficult task because of lack of manpower coupled with unprecedented growth in residential areas in Boracay. —ALG, GMA News