By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is planning to pursue the massive cleanup of the country’s other tourist destinations after the rehabilitation of Boracay Island.
President Duterte has bared the government’s “new national effort” in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) as he called on local government units to strictly enforce their environmental laws.
“Our actions in Boracay mark the beginning of a new national effort. This is just [the beginning]. For the other tourist destinations needing urgent rehabilitation and enforcement of environmental and other laws shall soon follow,” the President said in his speech.
“I urge our local government units to proactively enforce our laws and not wait for us to swoop down on your areas just to do your duty and work,” he added.
Duterte said he would further discuss the matter with local government units “some other time.”
For now, Duterte said the government was seeking to restore the environmental integrity of Boracay, which he previously described as a cesspool in need of urgent rehabilitation.
Duterte said the island, widely regarded as one of the country’s treasures and admired worldwide for its natural beauty, has “sadly become the representation of the government’s negligence, including mine.”
“I could not allow this decay to continue; decisive action has long been overdue. Recognizing that we are mere stewards of our natural resources, and I said enough is enough,” he said.
“We intend to restore its environmental integrity, alongside measures to alleviate those whose livelihood were momentarily affected. Environmental protection and ensuring the health of our people cannot be overemphasized,” he added.
The popularly beach destination has been closed down to tourists since April to address population problems such poor sewage systems. The closure is expected to be lifted this October.