By Ellalyn De Veraruiz
Boracay Island – Officials of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Tourism (DOT) conducted an aerial inspection of Boracay Island on Thursday, ahead of the Senate onsite investigation on the escalating environmental degradation in the world-famous beach resort in Aklan.
According to DENR Undersecretary and spokesman Jonas Leones, the officials are gathering sufficient evidence on the extent of pollution and contamination of its waters.
After the aerial inspection, the officials gathered for an inter-agency meeting in preparation for the Senate investigation this Friday.
DOT Secretary Wanda Teo, DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, and DENR Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, among others, were present during the meeting.
Teo noted that even amid reports of environmental problems in Boracay, tourism remains vibrant in the island.
But Mario, a 32-year-old hat vendor in Boracay who declined to reveal his surname, said that since the government’s plan to temporary close the island from tourism activities was made public, it has affected his and other ambulant vendors’ livelihood.
Mario, who relies on the crowds for his livelihood, said there were fewer tourists coming to the island in the past few days.
It has become evident with his regular earnings from an average of P8,000 per day, which is now down to about P2,000-P3,000 per day.
He said most of the ambulant vendors in Boracay have been complaining of lesser earnings.
Selling hats has been his family’s only source of livelihood for the past four years.
And with seven children to feed, the closure of Boracay island to tourist activities will inflict a huge blow on Mario’s family.
Should the government implements the temporary closure of the island to ease the negative impact of heavy tourism, he said he will just follow what the government deems beneficial for Boracay.
Another vendor, Rene, said he will just look for an alternative livelihood for the meantime. He has been selling sunglasses to tourists and visitors for the past four years.
The fate of the vendors and establishment workers in the island will partly rely on the decision of the Senate after its investigation scheduled this Friday.
The Senate will conduct an onsite inspection of the island before the Senate-led inquiry in the afternoon.
One of the issues that they will look into is the compliance of resorts and establishments to existing environment and tourism laws.
The roughly 1,000-hectare Boracay Island recently made headlines when President Duterte threatened to close it due to overdevelopment, congestion, and escalating environmental degradation.