By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said that he will not be attending the inauguration of the rehabilitated Boracay but said he will go to the island to lead the distribution of the lands to be given to the indigenous peoples there.
Duterte made the statement on the eve of the reopening of the world-famous Boracay Island which was closed to the public for six months to give way to its rehabilitation.
In a speech at the Manila Hotel, Duterte said that he is not fond of attending such occasions and would rather go to the event for the islands’ natives.
“Sabi nila bukas mag-inaugurate sila (They said they will inaugurate the island tomorrow). I will go to Boracay but I will go to distribute the lands given to the Atis,” he said Sunday evening.
“I’m not into sumptuous celebrations. But I will go to Boracay to personally distribute the land reform program certificates to the lumads there,” he added.
“Para sa akin mas importante ‘yan (To me that is more important). I am through with the dramas and show-offs. I’m stopped with the… my term, and I do not have to go politicking,” he continued.
Despite skipping the event, Duterte said he is glad that the island is clean again. However, he hopes that the local government unit will be able to maintain the island’s beauty.
“Boracay is just a small place, if you allow hotels and every subdivision there, it cannot carry beyond its normal capacity in terms of environmental loads and burden,” he said.
“And I hope that now that it’s clean, it has been eradicated of the bacteria, the huge bacteria there, I hope the local government, and of course with (Environment Secretary) Roy Cimatu who is there [will be able to maintain it],” he added.
President Duterte ordered the departments of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Tourism (DOT), and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to rehabilitate Boracay after saying that the famous tourist spot has turned into a cesspool. After the assessment of the three agencies, Duterte approved their recommendation to close down Boracay for six months to give way to its rehabilitation.
Earlier, Duterte said that he will declare the entire island of Boracay a land reform area after his intention of rehabilitating the island was questioned by critics following reports that a casino is going to be erected on a 23-hectare property in Boracay next year.
While insisting that he is not in favor of having the entire Boracay converted to a commercial land, Duterte said that he is willing to still give a portion of the island to tourism.