WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Philippines’ most famous island-paradise Boracay is closed for tourists for clean-up starting April 26, 2018.
- President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a six-month closure to let the holiday island recover from overcrowding.
- Boracay draws around 2 million tourists every year causing the island to the brink of collapse, Reuters reported.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown of Boracay, comparing the resort to a “cesspool,” polluted by mass tourism with business establishments flushing their raw sewage straight into the ocean.
Despite an annual $1 billion the beach resort generates for the Philippine economy, Duterte decided in February that the island needed a rest. But this decision made him look like the “bad guy” from around 1800 businesses, to island workers, the local government, and the tourists who have already booked their trip to the island since last year.
“What Duterte wants, Duterte gets,” said a local government worker supervising the demolition of the West Cove, a resort hotel which was built on protected forest land.
West Cove is one of the businesses that the government ordered closed. The popular resort was operating without a locational clearance, and no “building, occupancy, sanitary, fire safety and business permits.”
An estimate of 36,000 people would lose their jobs in the temporary closure. But the nation’s Department of Labor and Employment has prepared contingency plans for some of the workers that will be displaced.
According to the local newspaper Manila Bulletin, the registered workers who may lose their jobs from hotels, resorts or restaurants may be utilized in the rehabilitation programs to fix sewage systems or take part in demolition jobs of illegal structures, as told by DOLE-6 regional director Atty. Johnson Cañete. Duterte has also promised some $38 million in funds to help displaced workers.
Businesses cried foul and accused the government demolition team of harassment. There are coast guard boats on patrol on the beach and police armed with rifles were posted at entry points. About 600 policemen were deployed causing tension but the government announced that there was no threat.
Tourists can no longer board the ferry which is the main transportation going to the island which has become tainted by commercialization, overdevelopment, and mass tourism.
The locals had the turquoise waters and white-sand beaches mostly to themselves for the first time in years.
“This is what you call an island, a paradise. Boracay looks like its original beautiful self,” said restaurant cook John Reymar.
“But maybe without tourists, what is the use of having a beautiful island?” Reymar asked.