By Tara Yap and Minerva BC Newman
Iloilo City — The local government of Malay town in Aklan has condemned several media organizations for what it said was an unfair portrayal of world-famous Boracay Island.
“The online news scoops of GMA and ABS-CBN attached a photo of the seasonal algal bloom in Boracay Island in order to increase the magnitude of their articles and hook people into thinking that the waters of Boracay Island are entirely full of algae,” Malay officials said in a collective statement.
Mayor Ciceron Cawaling criticized the media for recycling photos. In particular, Cawaling called attention to photographs that accompanied news articles after President Duterte described Boracay as a “cesspool” because of festering environmental problems.
“These photos were taken during the summer of the previous years. The photo in the article only shows glittering generalities, as it does not present any concrete argument or analysis,” the officials said.
“These news institutions gain profit from their news that ultimately degrades the image of Boracay Island, which is highly dependent on tourism,” they added.
“We advocate for responsible journalism,” they urged.
Duterte has ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to spearhead the clean-up of Boracay and to prosecute establishments contributing to contamination of its waters.
In his opening message during the 2nd Philippine Environment Summit in Lahug, Cebu City, Secretary Roy Cimatu said 834 of the 2,600 establishments in the resort island discharge untreated wastewater into the sea.
Cimatu said Boracay’s pristine waters have been contaminated by sewage from erring hotels, clubs and commercial outlets.
Over the years, runaway development, the influx of people beyond the island’s carrying capacity, lax enforcement of environmental laws and the illegal encroachment of easement areas and forest lands have escalated Boracay’s environment problem.
Cimatu said he is sending 12 teams or about 100 DENR personnel to inspect the pipelines of the establishments at the Boracay beachfront to reveal who among them are polluting the seas with wastewater discharges.