Philippine Daily Inquirer
Du30 ordered Boracay cleanup after catching whiff of foul air
A whiff of foul-smelling air while in Boracay prompted him to order the closure and eventual cleanup of the world-famous island, President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Wednesday.
In a speech during the 31st anniversary rites of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the President said he had sniffed early on the stench on the island, prompting him to call it almost two years later as a “cesspool.”
“When I was campaigning [for the presidential election] I went there. The wind was strong and as I was standing, waiting for the flight, [I said] what is that smell?” he said with a grimace.
‘Bacteria was all over’
“I sniffed the water, there’s a smell that does not fit, then when I had (the water) tested, the bacteria was all over,” the President added.
Mr. Duterte told the story to reiterate how “badly” the government needed to intervene and clean up the island.
“To maintain its viability, since we banner it as the crown jewel of our tourism, it is our moral obligation to make it clean, hygiene (sic) and safe,” he said.
The President ordered the closure of Boracay to tourists for six months, starting April 26. He eventually issued Executive Order No. 53, which created an interagency task force to carry out the island’s “rehabilitation.”
“We need to clean it. We banner it, (and urge tourists) ‘Go to Boracay’ and it’s full of shit,” he said.
Tests around Boracay
After his election, Mr. Duterte said he “silently” commissioned an agency to conduct tests in the waters around Boracay. It confirmed the waters were really “hugaw” (filthy in Cebuano), he added.
The President warned that the island’s rehabilitation ef- forts would go for naught if the influx of people into the island would not be regulated.
“Here’s the catch: Boracay is a small place. If you give Boracay an overload of humanity, [surely] it cannot handle it,” he said.
He said a “huge septic tank” could be constructed and used to store all the sewage wastes produced on the island.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the rehabilitation works were on target and the government may reopen the island as scheduled on Oct. 26.
“We are rushing to complete the job within the sixmonth period given to us by the President,” he said in a speech on Thursday.