MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte has warned to close Boracay, the country’s top beach destination, if environmental problems there would remain unsolved.
“I will close Boracay. Boracay is cesspool," Duterte said during a Manila Times business forum in Davao city Friday night.
He said that during his last visit there, he had seen for himself how trash was just 20 meters away from the beach.
“But you go into the water, it’s smelly,” Duterte said, noting that it’s destroying the environment.
The chief executive said if environmental problems are not addressed in the area, "there will be a time that no foreigners will want to visit the island".
Duterte earlier gave Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu only six months to solve environmental woes at the country’s top beach destination.
“I told Cimatu, ‘I’ll give you six months’,” Duterte reiterated.
Last Jan. 9, Cimatu and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo conducted an aerial inspection of Boracay and disclosed that a draft Executive Order (EO) was created to recommend the creation of a new task force "to address once and for all" the problems in Boracay.
DOT Undersecretary for Media Affairs Kat De Castro earlier said Malacañang is now studying the draft but in the meantime, the immediate solution would be to task the two agencies to ensure that laws were properly implemented.
"The president said they would review the Executive Order, he basically wants immediate action...He wants the environmental laws to be implemented right away so basically he's giving a six month deadline to DENR and DILG to fix the problem of Boracay," she said.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that tourist arrivals on the island reached over 2 million last year. (PNA)